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Richard Evans Schultes 

Albert Hofmann 
Christian Ratsch 

Their Sacred, Healing, 
and Hallucinogenic Powers 

“The more you go inside the world of Teonanacatl, the more things are seen. 

And you also see our past and our future, which are there together as a single thing already achieved, 
already happened. ... I saw stolen horses and buried cities, the existence of which was unknown, 
and they are going to be brought to light. Millions of things I saw and knew. I knew and saw God: 
an immense clock that ticks, the spheres that go slowly around, and inside the stars, the earth, 
the entire universe, the day and the night, the cry and the smile, the happiness and the pain. 

He who knows to the end the secret of Teonanacatl can even see that infinite clockwork.” 

— Marfa Sabina 

* -r 

Healing Arts Press 

Rochester, Vermont 

Caution: This book is not intended as a guide to the use of 
hallucinogenic plants. Its purpose is to offer scientific, his- 
torical, and cultural documentation concerning a group of 
plants that are or have been of importance to many societies. 
Ingestion of some of these plants or plant products may be 
dangerous. The remedies, approaches, and techniques de- 
scribed herein are meant to supplement, and not be a sub- 
stitute for, professional medical care or treatment. They 
should not be used to treat a serious ailment without prior 
consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. 

Healing Arts Press 
One Park Street 
Rochester, Vermont 05767 

First published by Healing Arts Press in 1992 

A production of EMB-Service for Publishers, 

Lucerne, Switzerland 

Copyright © 1 998 (updated version) EMB-Service for 

Publishers, Lucerne, Switzerland 

English translation second edition Copyright © 2001 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced 
or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or me- 
chanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any infor- 
mation storage and retrieval system, without permission in 
writing from the publisher. 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Schultes, Richard Evans. 

Plants of the gods : their sacred, healing, and hallucino- 
genic powers / Richard Evans Schultes, Albert Hofmann, 
Christian Ratsch.— 2nd ed. 
p. cm. 

Includes bibliographical references 
ISBN 0-89281-979-0 

1. Hallucinogenic plants, 2. Hallucinogenic plants— Uti- 
lization. 3. Ethnobotany. I. Hofmann, Albert, 1906- II. 
Ratsch, Christian, 1957- III. Title 
QK99.A1 S39 2001 

394.1 '4— dc21 2001004425 


Healing Arts Press is a division of Inner Traditions 

Picture on title page: Mayan “mushroom stone” from 
El Salvador, late formative period (300 b. c.-a. d. 200); 
height 13 Win. (33.5cm). 

Original concept and design: Emil M. Buhrer, Franz Gisler, 
Joan Halifax, and Robert Tobler 
New material translated by: Annabel Lee and 
Michael Beasley 

Composition: SatzWeise, Fohren, Germany 
Photolithography: Pesavento AG, Zurich, Switzerland 














Amanita. (Fly Agaric) • 


Atropa (Deadly Nightshade) 
Hyoscyamus albus (Yellow Henbane) 
Hyoscyamus niger (Black Henbane) 
Mandragora (Mandrake) 


Cannabis (Hemp, Marijuana, 



Claviceps (Ergot) 


Datura innoxia (Toloache) 

Datura metel (Datura) 

Datura stramonium (Thorn Apple) 


Tabemanthe (Iboga) 


Anadenanthera peregrina (Yopo) 


Anadenanthera colubrina (Cebil) 


Banistenopsis (Ayahuasca) 

Psychotria (Chacruna) 

Peganum (Syrian Rue) 

Tetrapteris (Yage) 



Brugmansia (Golden Angel’s Trumpet) 
Brugmansia (Blood-Red Angel’s 


Lophophora (Peyote) 



Panaeolus cyanescens (Blue Meanies) 
Panaeolus sphinctrinus (Hoop- 

Panaeolus subbalteatus (Dark-rimmed 

Psilocybe cubensis (San Isidro) 

Psilocybe cyanescens (Wavy Cap) 
Psilocybe mexicana (Teonanacatl) 
Psilocybe semilanceata (Liberty Cap) 


Salvia divmorum 


Trichocereus (San Pedro) 


Ipomoea (Morning Glory) 

Turbina (Ololiugui) 


Virola (Epena) 


Duboisia (Pituri Bush) 






204 INDEX 

The dreaming smoker stretched out 
comfortably on his chaise enjoys visions 
induced by Hashish. This engraving is 
from M. von Schwind’s Album of Etch- 
ings, published in 1843. 

Page 4 left: The witches of medieval 
Europe induced inebriation with a great 
variety of brews, most of which had at 
least one of the Nightshades as a 
psychoactive constituent. During their 
intoxications, they engaged in many 
aspects of hexing, both malevolent and 
benevolent. This illustration, a woodcut, 
published in 1459, portrays two witches 
calling for rain and thunder, possibly 
during a dry spell, and preparing a brew 
to help them achieve this goal. 

For the Huicho! Indians of Mexico, the Peyote cactus (Lophophora williamsii) 
(see page 7) is not a plant but a god, a gift from the Earth Goddess to hu- 
mans to assist them in attaining a connection to her in the mystical realms. 
The Huichol celebrate a great Peyote festival every year (below), at which all 
members of the tribe partake in eating the freshly harvested Peyote cactus. 


The earliest forms of life on Earth were plants. Re- 
markably preserved plant fossils have recently 
been discovered dating back 3.2 billion years. 
These early plants provided the foundation for 
the development of all later forms of plants and 
indeed of animals, including that most recent of 
creatures, the human being. The green plant cover 
of the earth has a marvelous relationship with the 
sun: chlorophyll-bearing plants absorb solar rays 
and synthesize organic compounds, the building 
materials for both plant and animal organisms. In 
vegetable matter, solar energy is stored in the form 
of chemical energy, source of all life processes. 
Thus the Plant Kingdom provides not only body- 
building foods and calories but also vitamins es- 
sential for metabolic regulation. Plants also yield 
active principles employed as medicines. The inti- 
mate relationship between the human and plant 

world is easily discerned, but the production of 
substances profoundly affecting the mind and 
spirit is often not so easily recognized. These are 
the plants that make up the substance of Plants of 
the Gods, focusing attention on the origin of their 
use and the effect that they have had on man’s de- 
velopment. Plants that alter the normal functions 
of the mind and body have always been considered 
by peoples in nonindustrial societies as sacred, and 
the hallucinogens have been “plants of the gods’ 
par excellence. 


“In consciousness dwells the wondrous, 
with it man attains the realm beyond the material, 
and the Peyote tells us, 
where to find it.” 

• — Antonin Artaud, The (1947) 

The shamans of the Huichol Indians use the sacred Peyote cactus so that will change the latter. The shaman in the middle of the yarn painting is 

they may attain a visionary state of consciousness in the alternate reality, depicted with a skull because he is a "dead man" and thus has the ability to 

which is causal to occurrences in mundane reality; what affects the former travel into the nether realms. 


The use of hallucinogenic or consciousness- 
expanding plants has been a part of human experi- 
ence for many millennia, yet modern Western so- 
cieties have only recently become aware of the 
significance that these plants have had in shaping 
the history of primitive and even of advanced cul- 
tures. In fact, the past thirty years have witnessed 
a vertiginous growth of interest in the use and 
possible value of hallucinogens in our own mod- 
ern, industrialized, and urbanized society. 

Hallucinogenic plants are complex chemical 
factories. Their full potential as aids to human 
needs is not yet fully recognized. Some plants 
contain chemical compounds capable of inducing 
altered perceptions, such as visual, auditory, tac- 
tile, olfactory, and gustatory hallucinations, or 
causing artificial psychoses that, without any 
doubt, have been known and employed in human 
experience since earliest man’s experimentation 
with his ambient vegetation. The amazing effects 
of these mind-altering plants are frequently in- 
explicable and indeed uncanny. 

Little wonder, then, that they have long played 
an important role in the religious rites of early ci- 
vilizations and are still held in veneration and awe 
as sacred elements by certain peoples who have 
continued to live in archaic cultures, bound to an- 
cient traditions and ways of life. How could man 
in archaic societies better contact the spirit world 
than through the use of plants with psychic effects 
enabling the partaker to communicate with super- 
natural realms? What more direct method than to 
permit man to free himself from the prosaic con- 
fines of this earthly existence and to enable him to 
enter temporarily the fascinating worlds of inde- 
scribably ethereal wonder opened to him, even 
though fleetingly, by hallucinogens? 

Hallucinogenic plants are strange, mystical, 
confounding. Why? Because they are only now 
beginning to be the subject of truly scientific 
study. The results of these investigations will, most 
assuredly, increase interest in the technical impor- 
tance of the study of these biodynamic plants. For 
man’s mind, as well as his body and the organs of 
the body, need curative and corrective agents. 

Are these nonaddictive drugs of interest as 
“mind-expanding agents,” as media for attaining 
“the mystic experience,” or as agents to be em- 
ployed merely as aids in hedonistic adventure? 

There is, however, another aspect that engages the 
scientist’s attention: Can a thorough understand- 
ing of the use and chemical composition of these 
drugs not lead to the discovery of new pharmaceu- 
tical tools for psychiatric treatment or experimen- 
tation? The central nervous system is a most com- 
plex organ, and psychiatry has not advanced so 
rapidly as many other fields of medicine, mainly 
because it has not had adequate tools. Some of 
these mind-altering plants and their active chemi- 
cal principles may indeed have far-reaching posi- 
tive effects when they are fully understood. 

An educated public must be an integral part in 
such development of scientific knowledge, espe- 
cially in so controversial a field as hallucinogenic 
drugs. It is for this reason that we offer the present 
volume — directed neither to the scientists who are 
deeply involved in research in this field nor to the 
casual reader, but to the concerned public. It is our 
belief that scientists — for the sake of humanity 
itself and its advancement— must make technical 
knowledge available to those able to take advan- 
tage of its presentation. It is in this spirit that we 
wrote Plants of the Gods, hoping that it may, in 
one way or another, further the practical interests 
of mankind. 

Richard Evans Schultes 
Albert Hofmann 


When the book Plants of the Gods first appeared in 
1 979, it was a milestone in ethnobotany and ethno- 
pharmacology. The book inspired and influenced 
many young researchers around the world and en- 
couraged them to continue in their own work. Be- 
cause of this there have been some new discoveries 
about the plants of the gods. Many questions about 
the activity and constituents of psychedelic plants 
have been clarified. I have tried to incorporate the 
new information in a way that preserves the origi- 
nal character of the book and reflects the current 
state of knowledge. I hope that the plants of the 
gods retain their valuable position in our world 
and that they reach the many people upon whom 
the sacredness of nature is dependent. 

Christian Ratsch 



Many plants are toxic. It is no accident that the 
etymological origin of the word toxic stems di- 
rectly from the Greek word to^lxov (toxikon), 
for “bow,” referring to the use of arrow poisons. 

Medicinal plants are useful in curing or alleviat- 
ing man’s illnesses because they are toxic. The 
popular interpretation tends to accept the term 
toxic as implying poisoning with fatal results. 
Yet, as Paracelsus wrote in the sixteenth century: 
“In all things there is a poison, and there is noth- 
ing without a poison. It depends only upon the 
dose whether something is poison or not.” 

The difference among a poison, a medicine, and 
a narcotic is only one of dosage. Digitalis, for ex- 
ample, in proper doses represents one of our most 
efficacious and widely prescribed cardiac medi- 
cines, yet in higher doses it is a deadly poison. 

We all realize the meaning of the term intoxica- 
tion, but it is popularly applied primarily to the 
toxic effects from overindulgence in alcohol. In 
reality, however, any toxic substance may intoxi- 
cate. Webster defines toxic as “Of, pertaining to, 
or caused by poison.” It might be more specific to 
state that a toxic substance is a plant or animal 
substance or chemical ingested for other than 
purely nutritional purposes and which has a no- 
ticeable biodynamic effect on the body. We realize, I 
that this is a broad definition— a definition £l\©fj ; 
would include such constituents as caffeine: wwl 
employed in its usual form as a stimulant, caffeme 1 
does not evoke truly toxic symptoms, but in high 
doses it is a very definite and dangerous poison. 

Hallucinogens must be classed as toxic. They 
induce unmistakable intoxications. They are like- 
wise, in the broad sense of the term, narcotics. The 
term narcotic, coming from the Greek vagxovv 
(narkoyn), to benumb, etymologically refers to a 
substance that, however stimulating it may be in 
one or more phases of its activity, terminates its 
effects with a depressive state on the central ner- 
vous system. Under this broad definition, alcohol 
and tobacco are narcotics. The stimulants such as 
caffeine do not fall under the definition of narco- 
tic, since in normal doses, they do not induce a 
terminal depression, though they are psychoac- 
tive. English has no term that, like the German 
Genufimittel (“medium of enjoyment”), includes 
both narcotics and stimulants. 

But the term narcotic has popularly been inter- 

Datura has long been connected to the 
worship of Shiva, the Indian god asso- 
ciated with the creative and destructive 
aspects of the universe. In this extraor- 
dinary bronze sculpture from South- 
east India of the eleventh or twelfth 
century, Shiva dances the Anandatan- 
dava , the seventh and last of his 
dances, which combines all inflections 
of his character. Under his left foot, 
Shiva crushes the demon Apasmara- 
purusa , who is the personification of 
ignorance. In Shiva’s upper right hand, 
he holds a tiny drum that symbolizes 
Time by the rhythm of his cosmic 
dance in the field of Life and Creation. 
His lower right hand is in the abhaya- 
mudra, expressing Shiva’s quality of 
safeguarding the universe. In his upper 
left hand, he holds a flame that burns 
the veil of illusion. His lower left hand is 
held in the gajahasta and points to his 
raised left foot, which is free in space 
and symbolizes spiritual liberation. 
Shiva’s hair is bound with a band, and 
two serpents hold a skull as a central 
ornament, thus showing Shiva’s de- 
structive aspects of Time and Death. 
On the right is a Datura flower. Gar- 
lands of Datura blossoms are woven 
among the locks of his whirling hair. 

Below: This painting by the Peruvian shaman Pablo Amaringo depicts the Page 13 top: The hallucinogenic use of Hemp (Cannabis) can be traced far 

creation of the drink Ayahuasca, the most important medicine of the Amazo- back into history. It is possible that the ingestion of this plant was responsible 

nian Indians. The magical drink has powerful visionary properties, which re- for the wild dances of the Mongolian shaman, 

veal to the participant a glimpse of “true reality,” the fantastic realm of visions. 

preted as referring to dangerously addictive agents, different hallucinations. Hallucinogens may like- 

such as opium and its derivatives (morphine, co- wise cause artificial psychoses — the basis of one of 

deine, heroin) and cocaine. In the United States a the numerous terms for this class of active agents: 

substance must be included in the Harrison Narco- psychotomimetic (“inducing psychotic states”), 

tic Act to be considered legally a narcotic: thus Modern brain research has shown, however, that 

Marijuana is not legally a narcotic, although it is a hallucinogens trigger brain activity entirely differ- 

controlled substance. ent from that apparent with true psychoses. 

Hallucinogens are, broadly speaking, all narco- Modern studies have demonstrated such a corn- 

tics, even though none is known to be addictive or plexity of psychophysiological effects that the 
to have narcotic effects. term hallucinogen does not always cover the 

There are many kinds of hallucinations: the whole range of reactions. Therefore, a bewilder- 

most common and popularly recognized is the vi- ing nomenclature has arisen. None of the terms, 

sual hallucination, often in colors. But all senses however, fully describes all known effects. The 

maybe subject to hallucinations: auditory, tactile, terms include entheogens, deliriants, delusiono- 

olfactory, and gustatory hallucinations can occur. gens, eidetics, hallucinogens, misper cep tino gens, 

Frequently a single hallucinatory plant — as in the mysticomimetics, phanerothymes, phantasticants, 

case of Peyote or Marijuana — may induce several psychotica, psychoticants, psychogens, psychosomi- 


Below right: In India the flowers of the potent hallucinogenic Thorn Apple 
(Datura metel) are brought as an offering to the Hindu god Shiva They are 
also ritually smoked. 

Below left: Henbane (Hyoscyamus albus) is one of the most important hallu- 
cinogenic plants of Europe. It was used for oracles and ritually burned in 
ancient Greece. 

metics, psychodysleptics, psychotar axics, psychoto- 
gens, psychotomimetics, schizogens, and. psychede- 
lics, among other epithets. In Europe, they are fre- 
quently called phantastica. The most common 
name in the United States — psychedelics — is ety- 
mologically unsound and has acquired other 
meanings in the drug subculture. 

The truth is that no one term adequately delimits 
such a varied group of psychoactive plants. The 
German toxicologist Louis Lewin, who first used 
the term phantastica, admitted that it “does not 
cover all that I should wish it to convey/’ The word 
hallucinogen is easy to pronounce and to under- 
stand, yet not all of the plants induce true halluci- 
nations. Psychotomimetic, while often employed, 
is not accepted by many specialists because not all 
the plants in this group cause psychotic-like states. 

But since these two terms — hallucinogen and psy- 
chotomimetic — -are easily understood and widely 
used, we shall employ them in this book. 

Among the many definitions that have been of- 
fered, that of Hoffer and Osmond is broad enough 
to be widely accepted: “Hallucinogens are . . . che- 
micals which, in non-toxic doses, produce changes 
in perception, in thought and in mood, but which 
seldom produce mental confusion, memory loss or 
disorientation for person, place and time.” 

Basing his classification of psychoactive drugs 
on the older arrangements of Lewin, Albert Hof- 
mann divides them into analgesics and euphorics 
(Opium, Coca), sedatives and tranquilizers (Re- 
serpine), hypnotics (Kava-kava), and hallucino- 
gens or psychedelics (Peyote, Marijuana, etc.). 
Most of these groups modify only the mood, 


Below: Maria Sabina reverently ingests the ninos santos, “holy children,” as Page 15: The Mazatec shaman Maria Sabina incenses sacred mushrooms 

she lovingly refers to the visionary and healing Magic Mushrooms. prior to their ingestion during the healing ceremony of the velada. 

either stimulating or calming it. But the last group 
produces deep changes in the sphere of experience, 
in perception of reality, in space and time, and in 
consciousness of self. Depersonalization may oc- 
cur. Without loss of consciousness, the subject en- 
ters a dream world that often appears more real 
than the normal world. Colors are frequently ex- 
perienced in indescribable brilliance; objects may 
lose their symbolic character, standing detached 
and assuming increased significance since they 
seem to possess their own existence. 

The psychic changes and unusual states of con- 
sciousness induced by hallucinogens are so far re- 
moved from similarity with ordinary life that it is 
scarcely possible to describe them in the language 
of daily living. A person under the effects of a hal- 
lucinogen forsakes his familiar world and operates 
under other standards, in strange dimensions and 
in a different time. 

While most hallucinogens are of plant origin, a 
few are derived from the Animal Kingdom (toads, 

frogs, fish) and some are synthetic (LSD, TMA, 
DOB). Their use goes back so far into prehistory 
that it has been postulated that perhaps the whole 
idea of the deity could have arisen as a result of the 
otherworldly effects of these agents. 

Indigenous cultures usually have no concept of 
physically or organically induced sickness or 
death: both result from interference from the spir- 
it world. Therefore, hallucinogens, which permit 
the native healer and sometimes even the patient 
to communicate with the spirit world, often be- 
come greater medicines — the medicines par excel- 
lence— of the native pharmacopoeia. They assume 
far more exalted roles than do the medicines or 
palliatives with direct physical action on the body. 
Little by little, they became the firm basis for 
“medical” practices of most, if not all, aboriginal 

Hallucinogenic plants owe their activity to a 
limited number of types of chemical substances 
acting in a specific way upon a definite part of 
the central nervous system. The hallucinogenic 
state is usually short-lived, lasting only until the 
causative principle is metabolized or excreted 
from the body. There would seem to be a differ- 
ence between what we might call true hallucina- 
tions (visions) and what perhaps could be de- 
scribed as pseudo-hallucinations. Conditions for 
all practical purposes apparently very similar to 
hallucinations may be induced by many highly 
toxic plants which so upset the normal metabo- 
lism that an abnormal mental condition may de- 
velop. A number of the plants (for example, Salvia 
divinorum ) experimented with by members of the 
so-called drug subculture and which were consid- 
ered as newly discovered hallucinogens by their 
users belong to this category as well. Pseudo- 
hallucinogenic conditions may be induced with- 
out the ingestion of toxic plants or substances; 
high fevers are known to cause such reactions. 
Fanatics of the Middle Ages who went without 
food or water over long periods finally induced 
such alterations in normal metabolism that they 
did actually experience visions and hear voices 
through pseudo-hallucinogens. 





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Before the eighteenth century, there was really no 
logical or widely accepted classification or naming 
of plants. They were known in Europe by the ver- 
nacular names current in the various countries and 
were referred to technically in Latin by cumber- 
some descriptive phrases, often several words long. 

The invention of printing and movable type in 
the middle of the 1400s stimulated the production 
of herbals — that is, botanical books — mainly on 
medicinal plants. The so-called Age of Herbals, 
from about 1470 to 1670, led to the freeing of bot- 
any and medicine from the ancient concepts of 
Dioscorides and other classical naturalists that 
shaped Europe for some sixteen centuries. These 
two centuries saw more progress in botany than 
had taken place during the previous millennium 
and a half. 

Yet it was not until the eighteenth century that 
Carolus Linnaeus, or Carl von Linne, a Swedish 
naturalist-physician and professor at the Univer- 
sity of Uppsala, offered the first comprehensive 
and scientific system of classification and nomen- 
clature for plants in his monumental, 1,200-page 
book Species Plantarum, published in 1753. 

Linnaeus grouped plants according to his "sex- 
ual system” — a simple system of twenty-four 
classes based primarily on the number and charac- 
teristics of the stamens. He gave each plant a gen- 
eric and a specific name, resulting in a binomial 
nomenclature. Although other botanists had used 
binomials, Linnaeus was the first to employ the 
system consistently. While his sexual classifica- 
tion — highly artificial and inadequate from the 
point of view of an evolutionary understanding 
of the Plant Kingdom (which was to come la- 
ter) — is no longer followed, his binomial nomen- 
clature is now universally accepted, and botanists 
have agreed on the year 1753 as the starting point 
of current nomenclature. 

Believing that he had classified most of the 
world’s flora in 1753, Linnaeus calculated the size 
of the Plant Kingdom as 10,000 or fewer species. 
But Linnaeus’s work and the influence of his 
many students had stimulated interest in the flora 
of the new lands that were being opened to colo- 
nization and exploration. Consequently, nearly a 
century later, in 1847, the British botanist John 
Lindley increased the estimate to nearly 100,000 
species in 8,900 genera. 



Hallucinogenic species occur among the highest-evolved 
flowering plants (angiosperms) and in the division fungi of 
the simpler plants. Angiosperms are subdivided into mono- 
cots (one seed leaf) and dicots (two seed leaves). 

Sweet Flag, Hemp (Marijuana), and Deadly Nightshade 
(above, right) as well as Fly Agaric (below, right) are repre- 
sentative psychoactive species. 

Male Fern 
Dryopteris filix-mas 



Hal reap Moss 

Onh/frinhi im nnmmnna 


Hemp; Mariju i 
Cannabis safiva 

Scotch Rosa 

cone-bearers (gymnosperms) and flowering plants 





Deadly Nighrsnane 
Atropa bellMjpqa 


Nicotiana fafia/m Atrof 

'Metaghl^rn deal 

Rosa spino$i$$irpa 




Dicots (flowering plants with two seed leaves) are separated into 
Archichlamydeae (petals absent or separate) and Metachlamy- 
deae (petals joined). 


White Pine 
Pinus strobus 



Fly Agaric 
Amanita mliscatja 

Mushrooms and molds (fungi), seaweeds (algae), mosses 
and liverworts (bryophytes), and ferns (pteridophytes) are 
simpler plants. 


Below: A flower and leaves of the hallucinogenic Datura innoxia, which be- 
longs to one of the most highly evolved families of the flowering plants. 

Even though modern botany is only two centu- 
ries old, estimates have greatly increased. They 
vary from some 280,000 to 700,000 species, the 
higher figures being generally accepted by bota- 
nists whose research is centered in the still only 
superficially explored tropical regions. 

Modern specialists estimate the fungi at be- 
tween 30,000 and 100,000 species. The great var- 
iance is due partly to lack of comprehensive stu- 
dies of many groups and partly to inadequate 
means of defining some of the unicellular mem- 
bers. One contemporary mycologist, realizing 
that the fungi are very sparsely collected in the 
tropics, where they abound, suggests that the total 
figure might reach 200,000. 

All of the algae are aquatic, more than half being 
marine. This most varied group of plants is now be- 
lieved to comprise from 19,000 to 32,000 species. 
Algae have been found in pre-Cambrian fossils dat- 
ing from one to more than three billion years of age. 
These procaryotic blue-green algae (Collenia) re- 
present the oldest known form of life on Earth. 

Page 19 left: This fossil of blue-green algae (Collenia) is approximately 2.3 
billion years old and is one of the earliest known specimens of life on Earth. 

Page Wright : A fossilized algae colony from the Cambrian period in Bolivia 
demonstrates that life-forms can be successfully preserved over billions of 

Lichens — a curious group of plants comprising 
a symbiotic union of an alga and a fungus — num- 
ber from 16,000 to 20,000 species in 450 genera. 

The bryophytes comprise two groups: mosses 
and liverworts. They are primarily tropical, and 
many new species are to be expected from the tro- 
pics with increased field investigations. That they 
are not an economic group may be in part respon- 
sible for our lack of understanding of their extent. 

Present calculations assign 12,000 to 15,000 spe- 
cies to the pteridophytes: the ferns and their allies. 
An ancient group of plants, it is best represented 
today in tropical regions. The seed-bearing plants, 
or spermatophytes, clearly dominate the land 
flora of the present time. The gymnosperms, or 
cone-bearing plants, constitute a small group of 
some 675 species; dating back into the Carbonifer- 
ous Age, this group is apparently dying out. 

The principal group of plants today — the plants 
that dominate the earth’s flora and which have di- 
versified into the greatest number of species and 
which, in the popular mind, comprise the world’s 
flora- — are the angiosperms. Angiosperms are seed 
plants in which the seed is covered or protected by 
ovarian tissue, in contrast to the gymnosperms, 
which have naked seeds. They are commonly 
called flowering plants. Economically the most 
important group of plants today, they have domi- 
nated the several terrestrial environments of the 
earth. Consequently, they may have a right to be 
known as the “most important” plants. 

Estimates of their extent vary. Most botanists 
hold that there are 200,000 to 250,000 species in 
300 families. Other estimates, probably more rea- 
listic, calculate 500,000 species. 

There are two major groups of angiosperms: the 
monocotyledons, plants with one seed leaf; and 
those with usually two seed leaves. The monoco- 
tyledons are usually credited with one quarter of 
the total. 

Some sections of the Plant Kingdom are of 
great importance from the point of view of biody- 
namic species with compounds of significance to 
medicinal or hallucinogenic activity. 

The fungi are of increasing interest: almost all 
antibiotics in wide use are derived from fungi. 
They are also employed in the pharmaceutical in- 
dustry in the synthesis of steroids and for other 
purposes. Hallucinogenic compounds may be 


widespread in the fungi, but those that have been 
of importance in human affairs belong to the asco- 
mycetes (Ergot) and the basidiomycetes (various 
mushrooms and puffballs). The importance of 
fungi as sources of aflotoxins of foods has only 
recently been recognized. 

Algae and lichens, interestingly, have as yet not 
yielded any species reported as hallucinogens. An 
impressive number of new biodynamic com- 
pounds, some of possible medical value, have al- 
ready been isolated from algae. Recent research 
has heightened the promise of isolation of active 
principles from lichens: they have yielded a large 
number of bacteria-inhibiting compounds and 
have been shown to be rich in chemovars. There 
are persistent reports of hallucinogenic lichens em- 
ployed in northwesternmost North America, but 
as yet no identifiable specimens or reliable 
information has been forthcoming. In South Amer- 
ica, a lichen (Dictyonema) is used as a psychoactive. 
The bryophytes have been phytochemically 
neglected; the few that have been studied have gi- 
ven little hope as sources of biodynamic com- 
pounds. Similarly, in ethnomedicine, the mosses 
and liverworts seem to have been ignored. 

Some ferns appear to be bioactive and psy- 
choactive. However, phytochemical investigation 
has been far from exhaustive. Very recent investi- 
gations have indicated a hitherto unsuspected 
wealth of biodynamic compounds of potential in- 
terest to medicine and commerce; sesquiterpinoid 
lactones, ecdyosones, alkaloids, and cyanogenic 
glycosides. A recent survey for antibacterial activ- 
ity of extracts from 44 Trinidadian ferns indicated 
the surprising fact that 77 percent were positive. 
No hallucinogenic constituents have yet been dis- 
covered in laboratory research or by indigenous 

societies, although several ferns are employed in 
South America as additives to hallucinogenic 
drinks (Ayahuasca). 

Of the spermatophytes, the gymnosperms exhi- 
bit few biodynamic elements. They are known 
primarily as the source of the sympathomimetic 
alkaloid ephedrine and the very toxic taxine. 
Many are of economic importance as sources of 
resins and timber. This group of seed plants is rich 
also in physiologically active stilbines and other 
compounds that act as protective agents against 
heartwood decay (essential oils). 

From many points of view, the angiosperms are 
the important plants: as the dominant and most 
numerous group and as the elements basic to 
man’s social and material evolution. They repre- 
sent the source of most of our medicines of vegetal 
origin; most toxic species are angiospermous; and 
almost all hallucinogens used by man, as well as 
other narcotics, belong to this group. It is easy to 
understand why angiosperms have been chemi- 
cally more assiduously studied; but what is not 
fully recognized is the fact that the angiosperms 
themselves have been merely superficially exam- 
ined. It is clear that the Plant Kingdom represents 
an only partially studied emporium of biodyna- 
mic principles. Each species is a veritable chemical 
factory. Although indigenous societies have dis- 
covered many medicinal, toxic, and narcotic prop- 
erties in their ambient vegetation, there is no rea- 
son to presume that their experimentation has 
brought to light all the psychoactive principles 
hidden in these plants. 

Undoubtedly new hallucinogens are lurking in 
the Plant Kingdom and, in them, possible consti- 
tuents of extreme interest to modern medical 



Plants of the gods interest various disciplines: eth- 
nology, religious studies, history, and folklore. 
The two major scientific disciplines that concern 
themselves with these plants, however, are botany 
and chemistry. This chapter describes the work of 
chemists who analyze the constituents of plants 
used in religious rites and in the magic of medicine 
men and discusses the potential benefits from 
such research. 

The botanist must establish the identity of 
plants that in the past were used as sacred drugs 
or which are still employed for that purpose to- 
day. The next step to be explored by scientists is: 
What constituents — which of the substances in 
those plants — actually produce the effects that 
have led to their use in religious rites and magic? 
What the chemist is looking for is the active prin- 
ciple, the quintessence or quinta essentia , as Para- 
celsus called the active compounds in plant 

Among the many hundreds of different sub- 
stances that make up the chemical composition of 
a plant, only one or two (occasionally up to half a 
dozen) compounds are responsible for its psy- 
choactive effects. The proportion by weight of 
these active principles is usually only a fraction 
of 1 percent, and frequently even of one part per 
thousand of the plant. The main constituents of 
fresh plants, usually more than 90 percent by 
weight, are cellulose (which provides the support- 
ing structure) and water (as the solvent and trans- 
port medium for plant nutrients and metabolic 
products). Carbohydrates (such as starch and var- 
ious sugars), proteins, fats, mineral salts, and pig- 
ments make up several more percent of the plant. 
Together with these normal components, they 
constitute practically the whole plant, and they 
are common to all higher plants. Substances with 
unusual physiological and psychic effects are 
found only in certain special plants. These sub- 
stances as a rule have very different chemical 
structures from those of the usual vegetal consti- 
tuents and common metabolic products. 

It is not known what function these special sub- 
stances may have in the life of the plant. Various 
theories have been offered. Most psychoactive 
principles in these sacred plants contain nitrogen, 
and it has therefore been suggested that they may 
be waste products of metabolism — like uric acid 

in animal organisms — their purpose being the 
elimination of excess nitrogen. If this theory were 
true, one would expect all plants to contain such 
nitrogenous constituents: that is not the case. 
Many of the psychoactive compounds are toxic if 
taken in large doses, and it has therefore been sug- 
gested that they serve to protect the plants from 
animals. But this theory likewise is hardly convin- 
cing, because many poisonous plants are in fact 
eaten by animals that are immune to the toxic con- 

It remains, therefore, one of the unsolved rid- 
dles of nature why certain plants produce sub- 
stances with specific effects on the mental and 
emotional functions of man, on his sense of per- 
ception, and actually on his state of consciousness. 

Phytochemists have the important and fascinat- 
ing task of separating the active principles from 
the rest of the plant materials and of producing 
them in pure form. Once active principles are thus 
available, it is possible to analyze them to deter- 
mine the elements of which they are composed; 
the relative proportions of carbon, hydrogen, 
oxygen, nitrogen, etc.; and to establish the mole- 
cular structure in which these elements are ar- 
ranged. The next step is the synthesis of the active 
principle: that is, to make it in the test tube quite 
independently of the plant. 

With pure compounds — whether isolated from 
the plant or synthetically produced — exact phar- 
macological assays and chemical tests can be 
made. This is not possible with whole plants be- 
cause of the varying content of the active princi- 
ples and interference from other constituents. 

The first psychoactive principle to be produced 
in pure form from a plant was morphine, an alka- 
loid present in the opium poppy. It was first iso- 
lated by the pharmacist Friedrich Serturner in 
1806. This new compound was named for the 
Greek god of sleep, Morpheus, because of its 
sleep-inducing properties. Since then, enormous 
strides have been made in developing more effi- 
cient methods for the separation and purification 
of active principles, with the most important tech- 
niques evolving only during the last decades. 
These include the techniques of chromatography: 
methods of separation based on the fact that 
different substances adhere in varying degrees on 
absorbent materials or are more or less readily 



The psychoactive latex of the Poppy (Papaver somniferum) emerges white 
and turns to a resinous brown substance, raw opium. In 1806 morphine was 
successfully isolated out of the poppy, the first time in history that a single 
constituent was isolated. 

Below: Papaver somniferum from Kohler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen-Atlas, 1887 
This atlas is one of the outstanding plant books of the twentieth century. 
Morphine is not hallucinogenic; it has been classified as a euphoric drug. 


* l fl 

11 * w 

BVt / 



Some psychoactive compounds are also produced by animals. The Colorado 
River toad (Bufo alvarius) secretes considerable amounts of 5-MeO-DMT 

taken up in solvents that do not mix. The methods 
used in qualitative analysis and to establish the 
chemical structure of compounds have also under- 
gone fundamental changes in recent years. For- 
merly, several generations of chemists would be 
needed to elucidate the complex structures of nat- 
ural compounds. Today, it takes just a few weeks 
or even only days to determine them with the 
techniques of spectroanalysis and X-ray analysis. 
At the same time, improved methods of chemical 
synthesis have been developed. The great ad- 
vances made in the field of chemistry, and the effi- 
cient methods now available to plant chemists, 
have in recent years made it possible to gain 
appreciable knowledge of the chemistry of active 
principles found in psychoactive plants. 

The contribution made by chemists to the 
study of sacred plant drugs may be illustrated 
with the example of the Magic Mushrooms of 
Mexico. Ethnologists had found Indian tribes in 
the southern parts of Mexico using mushrooms in 
their religious ceremonies. Mycologists identified 
the mushrooms used in these rituals. Chemical 
analyses showed clearly which species were psy- 
choactive. Albert Hofmann tested one species of 
mushroom on himself; he discovered that it was 
psychoactive, that it could be grown under la- 
boratory conditions, and he was able to isolate 
two active compounds. The purity and chemical 
homogeneity of a compound can be demonstra- 
ted by its ability to crystallize, unless of course it 
be a liquid. The two hallucinogenic principles 
now known as psilocybine and psilocine, found 
in the Mexican Magic Mushroom Psilocybe mex- 
icana, were obtained in the form of colorless crys- 

Similarly, the active principle of the Mexican 
cactus Lophophom williamsii, mescaline, had been 

isolated in pure form and crystallized as a salt with 
hydrochloric acid. 

With the active principles of the mushrooms 
available in pure form, it became possible to ex- 
tend research into various fields, such as psychia- 
try, with useful results. 

By determining the presence or absence of psi- 
locybine and psilocine, an objective method was 
now available for distinguishing true hallucino- 
genic mushrooms from false ones. 

The chemical structure of the hallucinogenic 
principles of the mushrooms was determined (see 
structural formulas in the next chapter), and it was 
found that these compounds were closely related 
chemically to substances (serotonin) occurring 
naturally in the brain that play a major role in the 
regulation of psychic functions. 

As the pure compounds can be given in exact 
doses, their pharmacological actions could now 
be studied under reproducible conditions in ani- 
mal experiments, and the spectrum of their psy- 
chotropic actions in man determined. This was 
not possible with the original mushrooms, be- 
cause their content of active principles tends to 
vary, between 0.1 and 0.6 percent of the dry 
weight of the plant tissue. The greater part of this 
content is psilocybine, with psilocine present usu- 
ally only in traces. The median effective dose for 
humans is 8 to 16 milligrams of psilocybine or 
psilocine. Instead of swallowing 2 grams of the 
dried mushrooms, which have a rather unpleasant 
taste, one merely needs to take about 0.008 gram 
of psilocybine to experience the hallucinogenic ef- 
fects, which generally last for several hours. 

Once the active principles were available in 
pure form, it was possible to study their use and 
effective application in medicine. They were 
found to be particularly useful in experimental 


Mescaline— HCI Psilocybine Psilocine 

(mescaline-hydrochloride, crystallized from alcohol) (crystallized from methanol) (crystallized from methanol) 

psychiatry, as valuable aids to psychoanalysis and 

One might think that with the isolation, struc- 
tural analysis, and synthesis of psilocybine and 
psilocine, the mushrooms of Mexico had lost their 
magic. Substances that because of their effects on 
the mind had led Indians to believe for thousands 
of years that a god dwelt in those mushrooms can 
now be synthetically produced in the chemist’s 
retort. It should be remembered, however, that 
scientific investigation has merely shown that the 
magic properties of the mushrooms are the prop- 
erties of two crystalline compounds. Their effect 
on the human mind is just as inexplicable, and just 
as magical, as that of the mushrooms themselves. 
This also holds true for the isolated and purified 
active principles of other plants of the gods. 

Many alkaloids crystallize poorly as free bases. They will separate as a crys- 
tallized salt, however, when neutralized with a suitable acid, either by cooling 
the saturated solution or by evaporation of the solvent. Crystallization of sub- 
stances from solutions is carried out mainly fpr purification, since by-products 
remain in the solvent. 

As each substance has its own specific crystalline form, this form serves for 
identification and characterization of a substance. A modern method for the 
elucidation of chemical constitutions is the X-ray structure analysis. For the 
application of this method, alkaloids and other substances must be available 
in crystallized form. 


rv \ 

Right: 'There were enormous trees, crowned with magnificent foliage, decked with fantastic 
parasites, and hung over with lianas, which varied in thickness from slender threads to huge 
python-like masses, were now round, now flattened, now knotted and now twisted with the 
regularity of a cable. Intermixed with the trees, and often equal to them in altitude, grew noble 
palms; while other and far lovelier species of the same family, their ringed stems sometimes 
scarcely exceeding a finger’s thickness, but bearing plume-like fronds and pendulous bunches 
of black or red berries, quite like those of their loftier allies, formed, along with shrubs and 
arbuscles of many types, a bushy undergrowth, not visually very dense or difficult to penetrate 
. . . It is worthy to be noted that the loftiest forest is generally the easiest to traverse; the lianas 
and parasites . . . being in great part too high to be much in the way . . 

—Richard Spruce 

“The largest river m the world 
runs through the largest forest . . . By little and little, 
I began to comprehend 

that in a forest which is practically unlimited — 
near three millions of square miles 
clad with trees and little else but trees, 
and where the natives 

think no more of destroying the noblest trees, 
when they stand in their way, than we the vilest weed, 
a single tree cut down 

makes no greater a gap, and is no more missed, 
than when one pulls up a stalk of groundsel 
or a poppy in an English cornfield.” 

— Richard Spruce 

Below: The photograph depicts an aerial view of the Kuluene River, the southernmost tributary 
of the Xingu River, a main affluent of the Amazon. 


Many more hallucinogenic plants exist than those 
that man has put to use. Of the probable half- 
million species in the world’s flora, only about 
one thousand are known to be employed for their 
hallucinogenic properties. Few areas of the globe 
lack at least one hallucinogen of significance in the 
culture of the inhabitants. 

Despite its size and extremely varied vegeta- 
tion, Africa appears to be poor in hallucinogenic 
plants. The most famous, of course, is Iboga, a 
root of the Dogbane family employed in Gabon 
and parts of the Congo in the Bwiti cult. The 
Bushmen of Botswana slice the bulb of Kwashi 
of the Amaryllis family and rub it over scarifica- 
tions on the head, allowing the active principles in 
the juice to enter the bloodstream. Kanna is a 
mysterious hallucinogen, probably no longer 
used: the Hottentots chewed the plant material 
from two species of the Ice Plant family that in- 
duced gaiety, laughter, and visions. In scattered 
regions, relatives of Thorn Apple and Henbane 
were used for their intoxicating properties. 

In Eurasia there are many plants employed for 
their hallucinatory effects. Most significant, it is 
the home of Hemp, today the most widespread 
of all narcotics: as Marijuana, Maconha, Daggha, 
Ganja, Charas, etc., the drug and its use have 
spread nearly throughout the world. 

The most spectacular Eurasiatic hallucinogen is 
the Fly Agaric, a mushroom consumed by scat- 
tered tribesmen in Siberia and possibly the sacred 
god-narcotic Soma of ancient India. 

Datura was employed over wide areas of Asia. 
In Southeast Asia, especially in Papua New Gui- 
nea, sundry poorly understood hallucinogens are 
used. The rhizome of Maraba, a member of the 
Ginger family, is believed to be eaten in New Gui- 
nea. In Papua, natives ingest a mixture of leaves of 
Ereriba of the Arum family and bark of a large tree, 
Agara, to produce a sleep during which visions oc- 
cur. Nutmeg may once have been taken in India 
and Indonesia for its narcotic effects. Tribesmen 
in Turkestan drink an intoxicating tea made from 
the dried leaves of a shrubby mint, Lagocbilus. 

The heyday of the use of hallucinogens in Eur- 
ope occurred in ancient times, when they were 
used almost exclusively in witchcraft and divina- 
tion. The major plants involved — Thorn Apple, 
Mandrake, Henbane, Belladonna — belong to the 

Nightshade family. The fungus Ergot, a parasite 
on rye, frequently poisoned entire regions if acci- 
dentally milled into the flour. Such attacks led 
hundreds of citizens to go mad and suffer hallu- 
cinations, often causing permanent insanity, gang- 
rene, or death. This plague was known as St. 
Anthony’s fire. Although Ergot was apparently 
never purposefully used in medieval Europe as a 
hallucinogen, there are suggestions that the Eleu- 
sinian mysteries of ancient Greece were associated 
with this fungal genus. 

The famous and widely employed Kava-kava is 
not a hallucinogen but has been classified as a 
hypnotic narcotic. 

It is in the New World that the number and 
cultural significance of hallucinogenic plants are 
overwhelming, dominating every phase of life 
among the aboriginal peoples. 

There were some hallucinogenic species in the 
West Indies. In fact, the early indigenous popula- 
tions used mainly the snuff known as Cohoba; 
and it is believed that this custom was imported 
by Indians invading the Caribbean Islands from 
the Orinoco regions of South America. 

Similarly, North America (north of Mexico) is 
quite poor in hallucinogens. Various species of 
Datura were employed rather widely, but most in- 
tensely in the Southwest. The Indians of the region 
of Texas and adjacent areas used the Red Bean or 
Mescal Bean as the basis of a vision-seeking cere- 
mony. In northern Canada, Indians chewed the 
roots of Sweet Flag as medicine and supposedly 
also for the hallucinogenic effects. 

Mexico represents without a doubt the world’s 
richest area in diversity and use of hallucinogens 
in aboriginal societies — a phenomenon difficult 
to understand in view of the comparatively mod- 
est number of species comprising the flora of the 
country. Without any question the Peyote cactus 
is the most important sacred hallucinogen, 
although other cactus species are still used in 
northern Mexico as minor hallucinogens for spe- 
cial magico-religious purposes. Of almost equal 
religious importance in early Mexico and surviv- 
ing until today in religious rituals are mush- 
rooms, known to the Aztecs as Teonanacatl. At 
least twenty-four species of these fungi are em- 
ployed at the present time in southern Mexico. 
Ololiuqui, the seeds of Morning Glories, repre- 


Top: At the Shiva Temple of Pashupatinath near Kathmandu, Nepal, Indian 
yogis smoke Marijuana in preparation for the arduous body practice and 

Below: Visions revealed by hallucinogens can be subsequently processed 
and rendered artistically. In this way the experience is carried into and con- 
nected with everyday life. ( Hallucigenia by Christian Ratsch, watercolor, circa 
1993 ) 

sents another hallucinogen of great importance 
in Aztec religion and is still employed in south- 
ern Mexico. There are many hallucinogens of 
secondary importance: Toloache and other spe- 
cies of the Datura group; the Mescal Bean or 
Frijolillo in the north; Pipiltzintzintli of the 
Aztecs; the diviner’s sage now known as Hierba 
de la Pastora; Genista among the Yaqui Indi- 
ans; Piule, Sinicuichi, Zacatechichi, the puffballs 

known by the Mixtecs as Gi’-i-Wa; and many 

South America ranks a close second to Mexico 
in the number, variety, and deep magico-religious 
significance of hallucinogens. The Andean cul- 
tures had half a dozen species of Brugmansias, 
known as Borrachero, Campanula, Floripondio, 
Huanto, Haucacachu, Maicoa, Toe, Tongo, etc. 
In Peru and Bolivia a columnar cactus called San 
Pedro or Aguacolla is the basis of the drink 
cimora, used in a vision-seeking ceremony Ma- 
puche Indian witch doctors (who are mostly 
female) of Chile formerly employed a hallucino- 
genic tree of the Nightshade family — Latue or 
Arbol de los Brujos. Research has indicated the 
use in various parts of the Andes of the rare shrub 
Taique (Desfontainia), the mysterious Shanshi, 
and the fruits of Hierba Loca and Taglli, both of 
the Heath family. Most recently, a type of Petunia 
has been reported as an intoxicant used in Ecua- 
dor. In the Orinoco and parts of the Amazon, a 
powerful snuff called Yopo or Niopo is made 
from the toasted seeds of a tree of the legume 


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Notwithstanding the greater age of cultures and the 
widespread use of hallucinogens lathe Eastern 
Hemisphere, the number of species; so used star 
greatenathe Western Hemisphere.. Anthropologists 
have explained.This.disparity on culturalgfourids. 
There does not, however,, seem tobe a significant 
difference between the two hemispheres in the num- 
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Hallucinogenic plants, as well as their uses^ are 

Widespread, as shpwi^by this map. There are, 
nevertheless, significant geographical gaps in their 

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There are few cultures in the Western Hemisphere that 
did not value at least one hallucinogenic plant in ceremonies. Many cultures had 
several. In addition to hallucinogens, a number of 
otherwise psychoactive plants shared the honors: 
Tobacco, Coca, Guayusa, Yoco. Guaranca. Some of 
these — especially Tobacco and Coca— rose to exalted 
positions in the sacred native pharmacopoeias. These 
major hallucinogens are culturally significant in the 
areas indicated by the symbols. 

Hyoscyamus spp. 

Amanita muscaria 
Atropa belladonna 
Cannabis sativa 
Claviceps purpurea 
Datura spp. 

Tabernanthe iboga 
Anadenanthera peregrina 
Anadenanthera colubrina 
Banisteriopsis caapi 
Brugmansia spp. 

Lophophora williamsii 
Psiiocybe spp. 

Turbina corymbosa et Ipomoea violacea 
Virola spp. 

Duboisia spp. 

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Right: Shamans remain the guardians of wisdom concerning the magical ef- 
fects of the psychoactive plants. This photograph was taken at the holy 
mountain Kalinchok (4,000 m) in the Himalayas of Nepal. 

family. The Indians of northern Argentina take a 
snu ff — Cebil or Villca — prepared from seeds of a 
species closely related to Yopo. Perhaps the most 
important lowland hallucinogen in South America 
is Ayahuasca, Caapi, Natema, Pinde, or Yaje. Em- 
ployed ceremonially in the western Amazon and 
in several localities on the Pacific coastal areas of 
Colombia and Ecuador, it is made basically from 
several species of lianas of the Malpighia family. 
Brunfelsia, a member of the Nightshade family, 
known widely in the westernmost Amazon as 
Chiricaspi, is taken for hallucinatory purposes. 

There are more plants utilized as hallucinogens 
in the New World than in the Old. Nearly 130 
species are known to be used in the Western 
Hemisphere, whereas in the Eastern Hemisphere 
the number reaches roughly 50. Botanists have no 
reason to presume that the flora of the New World 
is richer or poorer than that of the Old in plants 
with hallucinogenic properties. 



The plant lexicon includes basic de- 
scriptions, primarily botanical in 
nature, of ninety-seven plants that 
are known to have a hallucinogenic 
or psychoactive effect. 

Emphasis is given to plants that 
are known from the literature, field 
experience, and/or laboratory evi- 
dence to have definite psychoactive 
effects. Some species that are re- 
ported to have “narcotic” or “intox- 
icating” uses are included as well. 

The plants are arranged alphabe- 
tically according to the Latin name 
of the genus. This order has been 
followed in view of the many differ- 
ent vernacular names in the great 
variety of native languages. If a par- 
ticular name is not listed, it may be 
sought in the index of vernacular 
names on pages 32-33 or at the end 
of the book where these epithets are 

Inasmuch as this volume is writ- 
ten for the general reader, the bota- 
nical descriptions are intentionally 
brief, stressing the obvious and most 

easily visible characteristics of the 
plant. Whenever space permits, ad- 
ditional information of historical, 
ethnological, phytochemical, and, 
very occasionally, psychopharma- 
cological interest is added. In this 
way, an attempt has been made in 
this introductory lexicon to give as 
broad an interdisciplinary view as 
possible. The illustrations in the lex- 
icon are of two kinds: some of them 
are watercolors made whenever 
possible from living plant material 
or herbarium specimens. Most are 
direct reproductions of color photo- 
graphs. A number of the plants de- 
picted here are illustrated for the 
first time. 

The purpose of the lexicon is 
manifestly to help guide the reader 
more easily into the admittedly 
complex array of facts and stories 
that comprise only a small fraction 
of the extensive knowledge from 
many fields concerning these plants 
that native peoples around the world 
have considered plants of the gods. 

The botanical investigation of medicinal 
plants has, over the years, become 
more and more exact and sophisticated. 
In 1 543, the writer of one of the most 
beautifully illustrated herbals, Leonard 
Fuchs, presented this accurate sketch 
of Datura stramonium, the Thorn Apple 
(left). Some three hundred years later, 
Kohler, in his Medizinal Pflanzen, pub- 
lished a more detailed pharmacognostic 
rendering of this very important thera- 
peutic plant (center). In the 125 years 
since the establishment of Linnaeus’s 
herbarium and the binomial system of 
nomenclature, our herbaria have greatly 
enhanced the understanding of the 
morphological variation of vegetal 
species through the collection of dried 
specimens around the world. The third 
illustration depicts a typical herbarium 
specimen of the Thorn Apple repre- 
senting the kind of material that now 
authenticates botanical identification. 
Modern technology (for example, the 
electron-scanning microscope) is mak- 
ing available morphological details, 
such as the leaf surface hairs of the 
Thorn Apple, which provide greater ac- 
curacy in the work of plant identification. 


Index and Key 
to the Plant Lexicon 

Ninety-seven hallucinogenic plants are illu- 
strated and described on the following pages 

The lexicon is in alphabetical order by genus 
name. Each text in the lexicon includes the fol- 
lowing information in its heading: 

• Genus, author, and, in brackets, the number of 
species known to exist in the genus. 

. Botanical name of the species shown. The 
species known to contain hallucinogenic 
properties or to be used as hallucinogens will 
be found in the reference section “Overview of 
Plant Use,” pages 65-80, which is organized 
by common name. This reference section/ 
chart provides the botanical names of the 
plants and describes the history, ethnography, 
context, purpose of usage, and preparation, 
as well as chemical components and effects. 

• Plant family. 

• Reference number. 

• Geographical distribution of the genus. 
Common names are listed here below with the 

number designating each plant's location in the 









Angel's Trumpet 

11, 12 

Arbol de Campanilla 


Arbol de los Brujos 





9, 93 

Aztec Dream Grass 




Badoh Negro 



24, 84 







Black Henbane 


Blood-Red Angel's Trumpet 


Blue Meanies 


Blue Water Lily 



11, 12,30, 






9, 93 















Chacruna Bush 


Chalice Vine 





















34, 88 

Common Reed 






Coral Bean 


Coral Tree 




Cumala Tree 






Dama da Noite 


Dark-rimmed Mottlegill 




Deadly Nightshade 


Diviner’s Sage 


Dog Grass 




El Ahijado 


El Macho 


El Nene 










False Peyote 




Flag Root 



11, 12 

Fly Agaric 
















Golden Angel’s Trumpet 




Hawaiian Wood Rose 






Hierba de la Pastora 


Hierbadela Virgen 


Hierba Loca 






Hikuli Mulato 


Hikuli Rosapara 


Hikuli Rosapara 


Hikuli Suname 






Hikuri Orchid 


Hongo de San Isidro 





11, 12 


11, 12 













Jurema Tree 
















Kuma Mushroom 




Lady of the Night 









Siberian Motherwort 


Liberty Cap 




Lion’s Tail 


Straw Flower 




Sweet Calomel 




Sweet Flag 


Magic Mushroom 


Syrian Rue 



11, 12 

Tabaco del Diablo 


Maiden's Acacia 




Malva Colorada 














Ta Ma 
























Thorn Apple 


Mescal Bean 




Mescal Button 




Morning Glory 











11, 12 



















Turkestan Mint 


Painted Nettle 












Peyote Cactus 


Wavy Cap 


Peyote Cimarron 




Peyote de San Pedro 








Pincushion Cactus 

24, 53 

Wild Dagga 




Wood Rose 


Pitallito Cactus 








Pituri Bush 





43, 81 



Poison Bush 


Yellow Flenbane 










Rape dos Indios 




Red Bean 


Red Canary Grass 


Reed Grass 






San Isidro 


San Pedro Cactus 




Screw Pine 










Siberian Lion’s Tail 


A South American Indian harvests a even millennia. The Indians caution 
plant of the gods, a Blood-Red An- against the thoughtless use of this 
gel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia sangui- plant, which causes such strong 
nea). This alkaloid-rich plant has hallucinations and delirium that only 

been cultivated and used for psy- experienced shamans can use it for 

choactive purposes for centuries or divination and healing. 


ACACIA Mill. (750-800) 

Acacia maidenii F von Muell. 
Maiden’s Acacia 

Leguminosae (Pea Family) 


ACORUS L. (2) 

Acorus calamus L. 

Sweet Flag 

Araceae (Arum Family) 

Temperate and warm zones 
2 of both hemispheres 

AMANITA L. (50-60) 

Amanita muscaria (L. ex Fr.) Pers. 
Fly Agaric 


Europe, Africa, Asia, 

3 Americas 


Anadenanthera colubruna 
(Vellozo) Brennan 
Cebil, Villca 

Leguminosae (Pea Family) 
Northwest Argentina 

The genus Acacia is widely dis- 
tributed throughout the tropical 
and subtropical regions of the 
world. It encompasses for the 
most part medium-sized trees 
with pinnate, occasionally 
smooth leaves. The flowers 
grow in clusters and the fruit is 
pea-like. Many acacias are a 
traditional additive to psycho- 
active products, such as betel, 
beer, balche, pituri, and pulque. 
Some of the species are suited 
for the preparation of Ayahuas- 
ca analogs. Numerous Austra- 
lian species (A. maidenii, 

A. phlebophylla, A. simplicifolia) 
contain higher concentrations of 
DMT in their bark and leaves. 

Acacia maidenii, a beautiful 
erect tree with a silvery splen- 
dor, contains different trypta- 
mines. The bark contains 
0.36% DMT. The leaves are 
usable as a DMT-delivering 
component of Ayahuasca ana- 
logs. These acacias are easy to 
cultivate in temperate climates 
such as in California and south- 
ern Europe. 

Some evidence, although weak 
and indirect, suggests that the 
Cree Indians of northwestern 
Canada may occasionally chew 
the rootstalk of Sweet Flag for its 
psychoactive effects. 

Sweet Flag is a semiaquatic 
herb with a long, aromatic, 
creeping rootstock producing 
shoots of erect, linear, swordlike 
leaves up to 6ft (2 m) in length. 
The tiny flowers are borne on a 
solid, lateral, greenish yellow 
spadix. The rootstalk or rhizome 
contains an essential oil re- 
sponsible for the plant’s medic- 
inal value. 

It has been suggested that the 
active principles are a-asarone 
and p-asarone. There is a struc- 
tural resemblance between 
asarone and mescaline, a psy- 
choactive alkaloid. No evidence 
has ever been produced, how- 
ever, that asarone can be asso- 
ciated with psychotomimetic 

Amanita muscaria is a beautiful 
mushroom growing in thin for- 
ests usually under birches, firs, 
and young pines. It may attain a 
height of 8-9 in. (20-23 cm). 

The somewhat viscid, ovate, 
hemispheric, and finally almost 
flat cap measures 3-8 in. (8- 
20cm) when mature. There are 
three varieties: one with a blood- 
red cap with white warts found in 
the Old World and northwestern 
North America; a yellow or or- 
ange type with yellowish warts 
common in eastern and central 
North America; and a white 
variety that is found in Idaho. 
The cylindrical stem, which has 
a bulbous base, is white, Vfe-1 in. 
(1-3cm) thick, with a conspicu- 
ous cream-white ring covered 
basically with encircling scales. 
The white valve adheres to the 
base of the stem. The gills vary 
from white to cream color or 
even lemon yellow. 

This mushroom, perhaps 
man’s oldest hallucinogen, has 
been identified with Soma of 
ancient India. 

This tree grows 9-50 ft (3-1 8 m) 
and has an almost black bark 
often adorned with conical 
thorns. The leaves are finely lo- 
cular and reach up to 1 ft (30 cm) 
long. The yellowish white flow- 
ers are round. The leathery dark 
brown fruit pods grow to 1 ft 
(35 cm) long and contain very 
flat red-brown seeds s h to 1 in. 
(1-2 cm) wide, with rounded to 
right angles. 

The seeds have been used as 
a hallucinogen by the Indians of 
the southern region of the An- 
des for approximately 4,500 
years. They are either worked 
into a snuff powder, smoked, or 
used as an additive for beer. 
Primarily they are used in 

The seeds of the Cebil or Vill- 
ca contain tryptamines, espe- 
cially bufotenine. 





nadenanthera peregrina (L.) Speg. 

Leguminosae (Pea Family) 

Tropical zones of South 
5 America, West Indies 

Argyreia nervosa (Burman f.) Bojer, 
Hawaiian Wood Rose 
(Morning Glory Family) 

India, Southeast Asia, 

6 Hawaii 

Ariocarpus retusus Scheidw. 
False Peyote 

Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 
Mexico, Texas 

and Waika, for the production of 
Epena. The shamanic snuff is 
made from cultivated trees in 
addition to other substances 
and plant ashes. The seeds 
contain mostly W.W-Dimethyl- 
tryptamine (DMT) as well as 
5-MeO-DMT and other trypta- 
mines. The shaman of the rain 
forest people of the Orinoco re- 
gion (for example, the Piaroa) 
cultivate this tree which is not 
native to that area. That way 
they secure their snuff supplies. 

Anadenanthera peregrina is a 
mimosa-like tree, mainly of open 
grasslands, attaining a height of 
65ft (20m) and with a trunk 2ft 
(60cm) in diameter. The black- 
ish bark is coarsely armed with 
conical mucronate projections. 
The leaves have from 1 5 to 30 
pairs of pinnae with many very 
small hairy leaflets. Many min- 
ute white flowers in spherical 
heads arranged in terminal or 
axillary clusters comprise the 
inflorescence. Flat, thin, glossy 
black, roundish seeds occur in 
rough, woody pods, from 3 to 1 0 
in a pod. 

A potent hallucinogenic snuff 
is made from the beans of Ana- 
denanthera peregrina in the Or- 
inoco basin, where it is called 
Yopo. Its former shamanic and 
ritual use in the West Indies, un- 
der the name Cohoba, was re- 
ported as early as 1496. Sadly, 
this use has disappeared due to 
the exploitation of the native 

The tree native to the edges of 
the large forested areas of 
Guyana is still used by different 
tribes, primarily the Yanomano 

The mature stems of this vigor- 
ously growing twining bindweed 
climb up to 30ft (10m) high and 
carry a latexlike milk. The 
stemmed, heart-shaped leaves 
are finely haired and have a 
silvery appearance due to a 
dense white down that covers 
the young stems and the leaf 
undersides. The funnel-shaped 
flowers are violet or lavender 
and are carried in the leaf axis. 
Their sepals are finely haired. 
The round fruit are berrylike and 
contain smooth brown seeds. In 
each seed capsule there are 1- 
4 seeds. 

The plant originates in India, 
where it has been used medic- 
inally since ancient times. A tra- 
ditional use as an entheogen 
has not yet been discovered. 
Phytochemical research is to 
thank for the awareness of its 
potent psychedelic constitution. 
The seeds contain 0.3% Ergot 
alkaloids (ergine and lysergic- 
acid-amides). Most psycho- 
nauts describe LSD-like effects 
after taking 4-8 seeds. 

These plants are small, grayish 
green to purplish gray or brown- 
ish cactuses, 4-6 in. (10-1 5 cm) 
in diameter. They hardly appear 
above the ground. Often called 
Living Rocks, they can easily be 
mistaken for rocks in the stony 
desert where they grow. Their 
horny or fleshy, umbricated, 
three-angled tubercles are 
characteristic of the genus. 
Dense masses of hair often fill 


Indians in northern and cen- 
tral Mexico consider A. fissura- 
tus and A. retusus as ‘‘false 

These species of cactus, re- 
lated to Lophophora, are typical 
desert plants, growing preferen- 
tially in the open sun in sandy or 
rocky stretches. 

Several psychoactive pheny- 
lethylamine alkaloids have been 
isolated from A. fissuratus and 
A. retusus. 

the areoles. The flowers vary 
from white to pink and purplish 
and measure approximately 
2'A in. (6cm) long and up to 
1 Vz in. (4cm) wide when fully 


ATROPA L. (4) 

Atropa belladonna L. 

Deadly Nightshade 
(Nightshade Family) 

Europe, North Africa, Asia 

This much-branched perennial 
herb up to 3 ft (90 cm) tall may be 
glabrous or pubescent-glandu- 
lar. The ovate leaves attain a 
length of 8 in. (20cm). The soli- 
tary, drooping, bell-shaped, 
brown-purple flowers, approxi- 
mately 1 Vs in. (3cm) long, pro- 
duce shiny black berries 1 ’/&- 
1 Vz in. (3-4 cm) in diameter. All 
parts of the plant contain potent 
alkaloids. It grows in thickets 
and woods on lime soils and is 
naturalized especially near old 
buildings and hedges. 

It is believed that Belladonna 
figured as an important ingredi- 
ent in many of the witches’ 
brews of antiquity. There are, of 
course, numerous records of 
accidental and purposeful poi- 
soning associated with the 
Deadly Nightshade. 

This plant played a major role 
in the war of the Scots under 
Duncan I against the Norwegian 
king Sven Canute about a. d. 
1035. The Scots destroyed the 
Scandinavian army 
by sending them food and beer 
to which “Sleepy Nightshade” 
had been added. 

The main psychoactive con- 
stituent is atropine but lesser 
amounts of scopolamine and 
trace amounts of minor tropane 
alkaloids are also present. The 
total alkaloid content in the 
leaves is 0.4%, in the roots 
0.5%, and in the seeds 0.8%. 

In addition to the usual Bella- 
donna there is a rare, yellow 
blooming variety (var, lutea) as 
well as little known related kinds. 
The Indian Belladonna (Atropa 
acuminata Royle ex Lindl.) is 
cultivated for pharmaceutical 
purposes because of its high 
content of scopolamine. In Asia 
the Caucasian Belladonna 
(Atropa caucasia Kreyer) and 
theTurkmenish Belladonna 
(Atropa komarovii Blin. et Shal) 
are found. Belladonna is still 
cultivated for the pharmaceuti- 
cal production of atropine. 


C.B. Robinson et Small 
Banisteriopsis caapi (Spruce ex Gri- 
seb.) Morton, Ayahuasca 
(Malpighia Family) 

Tropical zones of northern 
9 South America, West Indies 

BOLETUS Dill, ex Fr. (225) 

Boletus manicus Heim 
Kuma Mushroom 



These giant forest lianas are the 
basis of an important hallucino- 
genic drink (Ayahuasca) ritually 
consumed in the western half of 
the Amazon Valley and by iso- 
lated tribes on the Pacific slopes 
of the Colombian and Ecuador- 
ean Andes. The bark of Banis- 
teriopsis caapi and B. inebrians, 
prepared in cold water or after 
long boiling, may be taken alone, 
but various plant additives— 
especially the leaves of Diplop- 
teris cabrerana, known as Oco- 
Yaje, and of Psychotria viridis— 
are often used to alter the effects 
of the hallucinogenic drink. 

Both species are lianas with 
smooth, brown bark and dark 
green, chartaceous, ovate-lan- 
ceolate leaves up to about 7 in. 
(18cm) in length, 2-3 in. (5- 
8 cm) wide. The inflorescence is 
many-flowered. The small flow- 
ers are pink or rose-colored. The 
fruit is a samara with wings 
about 1 3 /a in. (3.5 cm) long. 

B. inebrians differs from B. caa- 
pi in its thicker ovate, more at- 
tenuate leaves and in the shape 
of the samara wings. The liana 
contains MAO inhibitors. 

Several species of Boletus are 
involved in the curious “mush- 
room madness” of the Kuma of 
New Guinea. Boletus reayi, one 
of these, is characterized by a 
hemispherical, strong brownish 
red cap that is cream-yellow at 
the periphery; it measures from 
% to 1 Vz in. (2 to 4cm) in dia- 
meter. The flesh of the cap is 
lemon-colored. The stipe varies 
from orange at the top, to a 
marbled green and gray-rose in 
the middle, to a green at the 
base. The spores, which are 
elongated ellipsoidal, have a 
yellow membrane but are olive- 
colored within. 

B manicus is a well-known 
species that, as its name im- 
plies, has somewhat toxic prop- 
erties, (mania = insanity). Hallu- 
cinogenic properties have not 
yet been proven. 


Goiden Angel’s Trumpet 
Solan aceae 
(Nightshade Family) 

Western South America 


Brugmansia sanguinea 
(Ruiz et Pavon) D. Don 
Blood-Red Angel’s Trumpet 
(Nightshade Family) 

South America, 

12 Colombia to Chile 

Closely related to Datura, the 
species of Brugmansia are ar- 
borescent, and it is suspected 
that they are all cultigens un- 
known in the wild. Biologically 
very complex, all species ap- 
pear to have been used as hal- 
lucinogens for millennia. Brug- 
mansia suaveolens and 
B. insignis occur in warmer 
parts of South America, espe- 
cially in the western Amazonia, 
where they are employed alone 
or mixed with other plants, 
usually under the name Toe. 
Most of the species, however, 
prefer the cool, wet highlands 
above 6,000 ft. (1,830 m). The 
most widespread species in the 
Andes is Brugmansia aurea, 
with both yellow and, more com- 
monly, white flower forms. In the 
horticultural literature it has fre- 
quently been misidentified as 
Brugmansia (or Datura) arbor- 
ea. which is in reality a much 
less common plant. Brugmansia 
aurea is a shrub or small tree up 
to 30ft (9m) tall with oblong-el- 
liptic, often minutely hairy 
leaves, the blade measuring 4- 
1 6 in. (10-40 cm) long, 2— 6Vi in. 

(5-1 6cm) wide, borne on a pe- 
tiole up to 5 in. (13cm) long. The 
flowers are nodding, not wholly 
pendulous, usually 7—9 in. (18- 
23cm) long and very fragrant, 
especially in the evening. The 
trumpet-shaped corolla flaring 
broadly at the mouth is white or 
golden yellow, its slender basal 
part completely enclosed by the 
calyx, its teeth 1 1&-2V4 in. (4- 
6cm) long, recurving. The eion- 
gate-ovoid, smooth, green fruit, 
which is variable in size, re- 
mains fleshy, never becoming 
hard or woolly. The angular, 
blackish or brownish seeds are 
relatively large, measuring 
about 'A by % in. (12 by 9mm). 

In addition to their use as hallu- 
cinogens, all species have 
played major roles as medicines 
for a large spectrum of ills, 
especially in the treatment of 
rheumatic pains. They contain 
potent hallucinogenic tropane 

This perennial Brugmansia is 
heavily branched and reaches 6- 
1 6 ft (2-5 m), developing a very 
woody trunk. The gray-green 
leaves are furry and roughly ser- 
rated at the edge. The Blood-Red 
Angel’s Trumpet does not emit 
scents in the night. Usually the 
flowers are green at the base, 
yellow in the middle, and have a 
red edge around the top. There 
are also green-red, pure yellow, 
yellow-red, and almost comple- 
tely red varieties. The smooth 
oval fruits are bulbous in the cen- 
ter and pointed at the ends and 
are usually partially protected by 
the dried calyx. In Colombia this 
powerful shaman plant was ri- 
tually used in the cult of the sun of 
pre-Columbian times. The plant 
is still used as a hallucinogen by 
the shamans and Curanderos of 
Ecuador and Peru. 

The entire plant contains tro- 
pane alkaloids. The flowers 
contain essentially atropine and 
only traces of scopolamine 
(hyoscine). In the seeds ap- 
proximately 0.17% total 
alkaloids are present; of those, 
78% are scopolamine. 

Several species of Brunfelsia 
have medicinal and psycho- 
active roles in the Colombian, 
Ecuadorean, and Peruvian 
Amazon as well as in Guyana. 
Scopoletine has been found in 
Brunfelsia, but this compound is 
not known to be ps.ychoactive. 

B. chiricaspi and B. grandi- 
flora are shrubs or small trees 
reaching a height of about 10ft 
(3m). The oblong or lanceolate 
leaves, measuring 21 / 2-12 in. 
long (6-30 cm), are scattered 
along the branchlets. The flow- 
ers have a tubular corolla, longer 
than the bell-shaped calyx and 
measuring about 4-4 3 /4 in. (ID- 
12 cm) across, blue to violet, 
fading with age to white. B. chir- 
icaspi differs from B. grandiflora 
in having much larger leaves, 
longer leaf stalks, a few-flow- 
ered inflorescence, and de- 
flexed corolla lobes. B. chiricas- 
pi occurs in the west Amazonia 
of Colombia, Ecuador, and 
Peru. B. grandiflora is wide- 
ranging in western South Amer- 
ica from Venezuela to Bolivia. 
Brunfelsias serve as Ayahuasca 


Brunfelsia grandiflora D. Don 

(Nightshade Family) 

Tropical zones of northern 
1 3 Sou th America, West Indies 


CACALIA L, (50) 

Cacalia cordifolia L. fil. 


Compositae (Sunflower Family) 

East Asia, North America, 
14 Mexico 

A small shrubby climber, 

Cacalia cordifolia has dusty- 
puberulent, six-angled stems. 
The leaves are thin, ovate, and 
basally cordate, 1 V 2 - 3 V 3 in. (4- 
9 cm) long. The flowering head 
is subsessile or pedicellate, 
about %in. (1 cm) long. 

This and several other spe- 
cies of Cacalia have been re- 
ferred to in parts of northern 
Mexico as Peyote and may pos- 
sibly have once been employed 
for hallucinatory purposes. In 
Mexico Cacalia cordifolia is a 
presumed aphrodisiac and cure 
for sterility. An alkaloid has been 
reported from the plant, but 
there is no evidence of a chemi- 
cal constituent with psycho- 
active properties. 

This little researched plant is 
apparently often confused with 
Calea zacatechichi. 


Caesalpinia sepiaria Roxb. 


Leguminosae (Pea Family) 

Tropical and warm zones of 
15 both hemispheres 

CALEA L. (95) 

Calea zacatechichi Schlecht. 

Dog Grass 

Compositae (Sunflower Family) 
Tropical zones of northern 
16 South America, Mexico 


Cannabis sativa L. 


Cannabaceae (Hemp Family) 
Warm-temperate zones, 

1 7 worldwide 

Known in Mexico as Zacatechi- 
chi (“bitter grass”), this incon- 
spicuous shrub, occurring from 
Mexico to Costa Rica, has been 
important in folk medicine. It has 
also been valued as an 

Recent reports suggest that 
the Chontal Indians of Oaxaca 
take a tea of the crushed, dried 
leaves as a hallucinogen. Be- 
lieving in visions seen in 
dreams, Chontal medicine men, 
who assert that Zacatechichi 
clarifies the senses, call the 
plant Thle-pelakano, or “leaf of 

Calea zacatechichi is a heav- 
ily branching shrub with 
triangular-ovate, coarsely 
toothed leaves 3 /4-2V2 in. (2- 
6.5 cm) long. The inflorescence 
is densely many-flowered 
(usually about 12). 

No constituent with hallucina- 
tory properties has as yet been 
isolated from C. zacatechichi. 

The plant contains germacra- 
nolides. The subtile psychoac- 
tive effect can be described as 

Cannabis sativa has become 
very polymorphic, but it is 
usually a rank, robust, erect, 
loosely branched annual herb, 
sometimes attaining a height of 
18 ft (5.4 m). The sexes are nor- 
mally on separate plants, the 
staminate weaker and dying 
after shedding pollen, the pistil- 
late stockier and more foliose. 
The membranaceous leaves are 
digitate, with 3 to 1 5 (usually 7 
to 9) linear-lanceolate, serrated 
segments commonly 21/4— 4in. 
(6-1 0 cm) wide. The flowers are 
borne in axillary or terminal 
branches, dark green, yellow- 
green, or brownish purple. The 
fruit is an ovoid, slightly com- 
pressed, often brownish akene 
covered by a persistent calyx, 
enveloped by an enlarged bract, 
usually lacking a strong marbled 
pattern; it is firmly attached to 
the stalk without a definite ar- 
ticulation. The seed is ovoid, 
mostly Vs by Vfe in. (4 by 2mm). 

Cannabis indica is pyramidal 
or conical in form and under 4- 
5ft (120-150 cm) in height. 

Cannabis ruderalis is small 
and is never cultivated. 

Caesalpinia sepiaria or Yun- 
Shih, a shrubby vine with retro- 
rsely hooked spines, is reput- 
edly used as a hallucinogen in 
China. The roots, flowers, and 
seeds also have value in folk 

The earliest Chinese herbal— 
Pen-ts’-ao-ching— stated that 
the “flowers could enable one to 
see spirits and, when taken in 
excess, cause one to stagger 
madly.” If consumed over a long 
period, they produce levitation 
and “communication with the 

This plant is an extensive 
climber with pinnate leaves 9- 
15 in. (23-38 cm) long and 
linear-oblong leaflets in 8-12 
pairs. The large, erect, un- 
branched showy racemes, 21 in. 
(53 cm) long, bear canary yellow 
flowers. The smooth, elongate- 
ovoid, pointed fruit has 4 to 8 
ovoid, brown- and black-mottled 
seeds, % in. (1 cm) long. An al- 
kaloid of unknown structure has 
been reported from Caesalpinia 


CARNEGIEA Britt, et Rose 

Carnegiea gigantea (Engelm.) Britt. 

et Rose 


Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 
Southwestern North 
18 America, northern Mexico 

CESTRUM L. (160) 

Cestrum parqui L’Herit. 
Lady of the Night 
(Nightshade Family) 


CLAV1CEPS Tulasne (6) 

Claviceps purpurea (Fr.) 




Temperate zones of Europe, 
20 northern Africa, Asia, 

North America 

COLEUS Lour. (150) 

Coleus blumei Benth. 

Painted Nettle 

Labiatae (Mint Family) 

Tropical and warm zones of 
21 Europe, Africa, Asia 

This largest of the columnar 
cactus plants, Saguaro, reach- 
ing a height of some 40ft (12 m), 
is a candelabra-branched "tree." 
The many-ribbed stems and 
branches attain a diameter of 1- 
2Vi ft (30-75 cm). The spines 
near the top of the plant are yel- 
low-brown. Measuring 4-5 in. 
(10-1 3 cm) in length, the white, 
funnel-shaped flowers open 
during the day. The fruit, red or 
purple, is an ovoid or ellipsoid 
berry splitting down the side into 
two or three sections and mea- 
suring 2 V 2 - 3 V 2 in. (6-9 cm) long. 
The numerous small seeds are 
black and shining. 

Although there are no reports 
of the Saguaro as a hallucino- 
gen, the plant does contain 
pharmacologically active alka- 
loids capable of psychoactivity. 

Carnegine, 5-hydroxycarne- 
gine, and norcarnegine, plus 
trace amounts of 3-methoxytyr- 
amine and arizonine (atetrahy- 
droquinoline base), have been 
isolated from Saguaro. 

The native people make a 
wine from the pressed fruit. 

Cestrum parqui has been used 
medicinally and ritually for sha- 
manic healing since pre- 
Columbian times by the Ma- 
puche in southern Chile. The 
plant has the power to withstand 
attacks of sorcery or black ma- 
gic. The dried leaves of Cestrum 
parqui are smoked. 

The shrub grows to 5ft (1.5m) 
and has small, lanceolate matte 
green leaves. The bell-shaped 
yellow flowers have five pointy 
petals. They hang from the stem 
in clusters. The flowers bloom in 
Chile between October and No- 
vember and release a powerful, 
heady aroma. The plant has 
small oval berries that are a 
shiny black color. 

Cestrum parqui contains so- 
lasonine, a glycoside steroid-al- 
kaloid, as well as solasonidine 
and a bitter alkaloid (Parquin’s 
formula C 2 iH 3 gNOg), which has 
a similar action to strychnine or 

Ergot is a fungal disease of cer- 
tain grasses and sedges, pri- 
marily of rye. Meaning “spur,” 
Ergot refers to the sclerotium or 
fruiting body of an ascomycete 
or sac fungus. The spur is a 
purplish or black, curved, club- 
shaped growth V 2 - 2 V 2 in. (1— 
6cm) long, which parasitically 
replaces the endosperm of the 
kernel. The fungus produces 
psychoactive and toxic alka- 

There are two distinct periods 
in the life cycle of this fungus; an 
active and a dormant stage. The 
Ergot or spur represents the 
dormant stage. When the spur 
falls to the ground, the Ergot 
sprouts globular heads called 
ascocarps from which grow 
asci, each with threadlike as- 
cospores that are disseminated 
when the asci rupture. 

In the Middle Ages and earlier 
in Europe, especially where rye 
was used in bread-making, 
whole areas frequently were 
poisoned, suffering plagues of 
ergotism, when fungus-infected 
rye kernels were milled into 

Two species of Coleus have sig- 
nificance in Mexico. Related to 
Salvia divinorum is La Hembra 
(“the woman”); C. pumilus is El 
Macho (“the man”); and two 
forms of C. blumei are El Nene 
(“the child”) and El Ahijado (“the 
godson”). C. blumei attains a 
height of 3ft (1 m) and has 
ovate, marginally toothed leaves 
up to 6 in. (15cm) in length; the 
bottom surface is finely hairy, 
the upper surface usually with 
large dark red blotches. The 
more or less bell-shaped blue or 
purplish flowers, measuring 
about V 2 in. (1 cm) long, are 
borne in long lax, whorled 
racemes up to 1 2 in. (30cm) in 

Recently, salvinorine-like sub- 
stances (diterpene) were dis- 
covered. The chemical structure 
has not yet been determined. It 
is possible that by drying or 
burning the diterpene, its che- 
mical structure is modified into 
potent material. The chemistry 
and pharmacology must be re- 
searched further. 



Conocybe siligineoides Heim 

Agaricaceae (Bolbitiaceae) 

(Agaric Family) 


Conocybe siligineoides has 
been reported as one of the 
sacred intoxicating mushrooms 
of Mexico. Psilocybine has not 
as yet been isolated from this 
species, but Conocybe 
cyanopus of the United States 
has been shown to contain this 
psychoactive alkaloid. 

This beautiful mushroom, up 
to about 3 in. (8cm) tall, living on 
rotting wood, has a cap up to 
1 in. (2.5cm) in diameter that is 
fawn-orange-red, with a deeper 
orange at the center. The gills 
are saffron-colored or brownish 
orange with chrome yellow 

Many species of the genus 
Conocybe contain psilocybine, 
are psychoactive, and are used 
ritually. Recently a rudimentary 
cult around Tamu (a Conocybe 
species, “Mushroom of Aware- 
ness”) has been discovered. 

Conocybe siligeneoides is an 
obscure mushroom which has 
not been found or analyzed 
again since its first description. 


Coriara thymifoiia HBKex Willd. 


(Engelm.) Lem. 

Coryphantha compacta 
(Engelm.) Britt, et Rose 
Pincushion Cactus 

Coriariaceae (Coriaria Family) 

Southern Europe, northern 
23 Africa, Asia; New Zealand; 
Mexico to Chile 

Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 
Southwestern North 
24 America, Mexico, Cuba 

In the highest Andes from Co- 
lombia to Chile, Coriaria thymi- 
foiia adorns the highways with 
its frondlike leaves. It has been 
feared in the Andean countries 
as a plant toxic to browsing ani- 
mals. Human deaths have sup- 
posedly followed ingestion of the 
fruit. Reports from Ecuador, 
nevertheless, suggest that the 
fruit (shanshi) may be eaten to 
induce an intoxication charac- 
terized by sensations of soaring 
through the air. 

Coriaria thymifoiia is a shrub 
usually up to 6ft (1.8m) tall. The 
leaves are oblong-ovate, V 2 - 
% in. (1-2 cm) in length, borne 
on slender, arching lateral 
branches. The small, dark pur- 
ple flowers occur densely on 
long drooping racemes. The 
round purplish black fruit is 
composed of five to eight com- 
pressed fleshy parts, or carpels. 
The whole shrub has a fernlike 

No psychoactive properties 
have been isolated yet. 

A small, solitary, globular but 
somewhat flattened, spiny cac- 
tus up to 3V* in. (8cm) in dia- 
meter, Coryphantha compacta 
grows in dry hilly and mountai- 
nous regions. It is hardly visible 
in the sandy soil where it occurs. 
The radial spines are whitish, 
1/2- 3 /4 in. (1-2 cm) in length; the 
central spines are usually ab- 
sent. The crowded tubercles are 
arranged in 13 rows. Arising 
from the center of the crown 
either singly or in pairs, the yel- 
low flowers measure up to 1 in. 
(2.5cm) in length. The Tarahu- 
mara of northern Mexico con- 
sider Coryphantha compacta a 
kind of Peyote. The plant, called 
Bakana, is taken by shamans 
and is respected and feared. It is 
used as a substitute for Peyote. 

Coryphantha palmerii has 
likewise been reported as a hal- 
lucinogen in Mexico. Various al- 
kaloids, including the psychoac- 
tive phenylethylamines, have 
been isolated from several 
species of Coryphantha: horde- 
nine, calipamine, and macro- 

CYMBOPOGON Sprengel (60) 

Cymbopogon densiflorus Stapf 

Gramineae (Grass Family) 

Warm zones of Africa and 

25 Asia 

Native medicine men in Tanza- 
nia smoke the flowers of Cym- 
bopogon densiflorus alone or 
with tobacco to cause dreams 
that they believe foretell the fu- 
ture. The leaves and rhizomes, 
pleasantly aromatic of citron, 
are locally used as a tonic and 

This perennial grass has 
stout, erect culms with linear to 
linear-lanceolate leaves, basally 
wide and rounded and tapering 
to a fine point, 1 ft. (30 cm) in 
length and ’/2-1 in. (1-2 .5cm) in 
width. The flowering spikes are 
slender, olive green to brownish. 
This species grows in Gabon, 
the Congo, and Malawi. 

Little is known about the psy- 
choactive properties of the 
grass. The genus Cymbopogon 
is rich in essential oils, and ster- 
oidal substances have been 
found in some species. 



(30) j DATURA L. 

(14-16) I DATURA L. 


Cytisus canariensis (L.) 0. Kuntze 

Datura innoxia Mill. (D. meteloides) 

Datura metel L. 



Leguminosae (Pea Family) 

Southern Europe, northern 
26 Africa, western Asia; Canary 
Islands, Mexico 

(Nightshade Family) 

Tropical and warm- 
27 temperature zones of both 

(Nightshade Family) 

Tropical and warm- 
28 temperate zones of Asia 
and Africa 

Rarely are foreign plants incor 
porated in ceremonial use in 
aboriginal American societies. 
Native to the Canary Islands, 
Genista was introduced into 
Mexico from the Old World, 
where it has no record of use as 
a hallucinogen. It apparently has 
acquired magical use among 
the Yaquf Indians of northern 
Mexico, where medicine men 
value the seed as a 

A coarse, evergreen, much- 
branched shrub up to 6ft (1 ,8 m) 
tall, Cytisus canariensis bears 
leaves with obovate or oblong, 
hairy leaflets Vi-Vfc in. (.5-1 cm) 
long. The fragrant, bright yellow 
flowers, in terminal, many-flow- 
ered, dense racemes, measure 
about 14 in. (1 cm) in length. The 
pods are hairy, Vr*k in. (1- 
2cm) long. 

Cytisus is rich in the lupine al- 
kaloid cytisine, which is com- 
mon in the Leguminosae. Cy- 
stine has similar properties as 
nicotine. For this reason, plants 
that contain cystine are often 
smoked as a substitute for 

The most extensive use of Da- 
tura centers in Mexico and the 
American Southwest, where the 
most important psychoactive 
species seems to be Datura in- 
noxia. This is the famous To- 
loache of Mexico, one of the 
plants of the gods among the 
Aztecs and other Indians. The 
modern Tarahumara of Mexico 
add the roots, seeds, and leaves 
of D. innoxia to tesquino, a cere- 
monial drink prepared from 
maize. Mexican Indians believe 
that, unlike Peyote, Toloache is 
inhabited by a malevolent spirit. 

Datura innoxia is a herbac- 
eous perennial up to 3ft (1 m) 
tall, grayish because of fine 
hairs on the foliage; the leaves, 
unequally ovate, repand or sub- 
entire, measure up to 2 or 214 in. 
(5cm) in length. The erect, 
sweet-scented flowers, 514-9 in, 
(14-23 cm) long, are white with 
a 10-pointed corolla. The pen- 
dant fruit is nearly globose, 2 in. 
(5 cm) in diameter, covered with 
sharp spines. 

In the Old World, the most cul- 
turally important species of Da- 
tura for medicinal and hallucino- 
genic use is D. metel. 

Datura metel, native probably 
to the mountainous regions of 
Pakistan or Afghanistan west- 
ward, is a spreading herb, 
sometimes becoming shrubby, 
3-6 ft (1-2 m) tall. The triangu- 
lar-ovate, sinuate, and deeply 
toothed leaves measure 514- 
814 in. (14-22 cm) long, 3- 
414 in. (8-1 1 cm) wide. The soli- 
tary flowers, which may be pur- 
ple, yellowish, or white, are tub- 
ular, funnel- or trumpet-shaped, 
almost circular when expanded, 
may attain a length of 614in. 
(17cm). The drooping, round 
fruit, up to 214 in. (6cm) in dia- 
meter, is conspicuously tuber- 
culate or muricate, opening to 
expose flat, light brown seeds. 
The flowers are primarily violet 
and grow at an angle or upright 
to the sky. 

All types of Datura contain the 
hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids 
scopolamine, hyosyamine and 

DATURA L. (14-16) 

Datura stramonium L. 

Thorn Apple 
(Nightshade Family) 

Tropical and moderate zones 
29 of both hemispheres 

This annual herb grows to about 
4ft (1 .2m) and has many-forked 
branches and branched, leafless 
stems. The rich green leaves are 
coarsely serrated. The funnel- 
shaped flowers are 5-pointed, 
stand erect, and open upward. 
The common variety carries 
white flowers that at 2-3 in. (6- 
9 cm) long are among the smal- 
lest of the Datura species. The 
tatula variety has smaller violet 
flowers. The green egg-shaped 
fruit is covered with thorns and 
stands erect. The flat, liver- 
shaped seeds are black. 

The origins of this powerful 
hallucinogenic species of Thorn 
Apple is uncertain and its bota- 
nical history ardently argued 
over. Some authors suggest that 
Datura stramonium is an ancient 
species that originates in the re- 
gion of the Caspian Sea. Others 
believe that Mexico or North 
America is the original habitat. 
Today the herb is found 
throughout North, Central, and 
South America; North Africa; 
Central and Southern Europe; in 
the near East; and in the 


DESFONTAINIA R. et P. (1-3) 

Desfontainia spinosa R, et P. 



Highlands of Central 
30 America and South America 

DUBOISIA R. Br. (3) 

Duboisia hopwoodii F. v. Muell. 

Pituri Bush 
(Nightshade Family) 

Central Australia 


ECHINOCEREUS Engelm. (75) 

Echinocereus triglochidiatus En- 

Pitallito Cactus 
Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 
Southwestern North 
32 America, Mexico 


ex Britt, et Rose 

Epithelantha micromeris (Engelm.) 
Weber ex Britt, et Rose 
Hikuli Mulato 

Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 
Southwestern North 
33 America, Mexico 



One of the least-known Andean 
plants, Desfontainia spinosa is 
sometimes assigned to a differ- 
ent family: Loganiaceae or Po- 
taliaceae. Botanists are not in 
agreement as to the number of 
species in the genus. 

Desfontainia spinosa, a beau- 
tiful shrub 1-6 ft (30cm-1.8m) in 
height, has glossy green leaves, 
resembling those of Christmas 
holly, and tubular red flowers 
with a yellow tip. The berry is 
white or greenish yellow, glo- 
bose, with many lustrous seeds. 
It has been reported as a hallu- 
cinogen from Chile and south- 
ern Colombia. In Chile it is 
known as Taique, in Colombia 
as Borrachero (“intoxicator"). 

Colombian shamans of the 
Kamsa tribe take a tea of the 
leaves to diagnose disease or 
“to dream.” Some medicine men 
assert that they “go crazy” under 
its influence. Nothing is as yet 
known of the chemical constitu- 
ents of Desfontainia. 

In southern Chile Desfontai- 
nia is used for shamanic pur- 
poses similar to Latua pubiflora. 

The branched evergreen shrub 
with woody stems grows to ap- 
proximately 6-9 ft(2.5-3m). Its 
wood has a yellow color and a 
distinct scent of vanilla. The green 
leaves are lanceolate, with a con- 
tinuous margin tapered at the pe- 
tiole and are 4-5 in. long (1 2- 
15cm). The flowers are white, oc- 
casionally with rose speckles, and 
bell-shaped (to 7 mm long) and 
hang in clusters off the tips of the 
branches. The fruit is a black ber- 
ry with numerous tiny seeds. 

The psychoactive Pituri has 
been hedonisticallyand ritually 
used by the Aborigines since their 
settlerneigff Australia. The 
leavR^ar§|athered in August 
wljn^,Mp!f |ints are in flower. 
Tir^pe mig up to dry or roasted 
overafireTThey are either chewed 
as Pituri or smoked in cigarettes 
rolled with alkaline substances. 

Duboisia hopwoodii contains 
a variety of powerful and stimu- 
lating but toxic alkaloids: pitur- 
ine, dubosine, D-nor-nicotine, 
and nicotine. The hallucinogenic 
tropane alkaloids hyoscyamine 
and scopolamine have been 
discovered in the roots. 

This spiny cactus, one of the so- 
called false Peyotes of the Tara- 
humara Indians of Chihuahua, 
has acidic, edible fruit called Chi- 
litos. Medicine men take Hikuli 
Mulato to make their sight clearer 
and to permit them to commune 
with sorcerers. It is taken by run- 
ners as a stimulant and “protec- 
tor,” and the Indians believe that it 
prolongs life. It is reportedly able 
to drive evil people to insanity or 
throw them from cliffs. 

Alkaloids and triterpenes have 
been reported from Epithelantha 
micromeris. This very small, 
globular cactus grows to a dia- 
meter of 2VS> in. (6cm). The low 
tubercles, Vis in. (2 mm) long, are 
arranged in many spirals. The 
numerous white spines almost 
hide the tubercles. The lower ra- 
dial spines measure Vie in. 

(2 mm) long, the upper about 
% in. (1 cm). The small flowers, 
which arise from the center of the 
plant in a tuft of wool and spines, 
are whitish to pink , 1 U in. (5 mm) 
broad. The clavate fruit, %-Vfe in. 
(9-1 3 mm) long, bears rather 
large, shining black seeds, Vie in. 
(2 mm) across. 

The Tarahumara Indians of Chi- 
huahua consider two species as 
false Peyotes or Hikuri of the 
mountainous areas. They are 
not so strong as Ariocarpus, 
Coryphantha, Epithelantha, 
Mammillaria , or Lophophora. 
Echinocereus salmdyckianus is 
a low, caespitose cactus with 
decumbent, yellow-green stems 
%-1 V 2 in. (2-4 cm) in diameter. 
The ribs number 7 to 9. The 8 or 
9 radial spines are yellow, V 2 in. 
(1 cm) long, central spine soli- 
tary and longer than radials. The 
orange-colored flowers mea- 
sure 3V4-4in. (8-1 0cm) long 
and have oblanceolate to 
spathulate perianth segments. 
This species is native to Chi- 
huahua and Durango in Mexico. 
Echinocereus triglochidiatus dif- 
fers in having deep green stems, 
fewer radial spines, which turn 
grayish with age, and scarlet 
flowers 2-2 3 A in. (5-7 cm) long. 

A tryptamine derivative has 
been reported from Echinocer- 
eus triglochidiatus (3-hydroxy-4- 



Erythrina americana Mill. 

Coral Tree 

Leguminosae (Pea Family) 

Tropical and warm zones of 

34 both hemispheres 

GALBULIMIMA F. M. Bailey (3) 

Galbulimima belgraveana 
(F. v. Muell.) Sprague 


Northeast Australia, 

35 Malaysia 

HEIMIA Link et Otto (3) 

Heimia salicifolia 
(H.B.K.) Linket Otto 

Lythraceae (Loosestrife Family) 

Southern North America to 
36 Argentina, West Indies 

Tzompanquahuitl of the ancient 
Aztecs may have been from the 
many species in the genus Ery- 
thrina, the seeds of which are 
believed to have been employed 
as a medicine and hallucinogen. 
In Guatemala the beans are 
employed in divination. 

The beans of Erythrina flabel- 
liformis constitute a Tarahumara 
Indian medicinal plant of many 
varied uses, which may have 
been utilized as a hallucinogen. 

Erythrina fiabelliformis is a 
shrub or small tree with spiny 
branches. The leaflets are 2 V 2 - 
31/2 in. (3-6 cm) long, usually 
broader than long. The densely 
many-flowered racemes bear 
red flowers VA-2'A in. (3-6 cm) 
long. Sometimes attaining a 
length of 1 ft (30cm), the pods, 
shallowly constricted between 
the seeds, contain from two to 
many dark red beans. This spe- 
cies is common in the hot, dry 
regions of northern and central 
Mexico and the American 

Natives in Papua boil the bark 
and leaves of this tree with a 
species of Homaiomena to pre- 
pare a tea that causes an intox- 
ication leading to a deep slum- 
ber, during which visions are 

This tree of northeastern 
Australia, Papua, and Molucca 
is unbuttressed, attaining a 
height of 90ft (27 m). The highly 
aromatic, gray brownish, scaly 
bark measures Vi in. (1 cm) in 
thickness. The elliptic, entire 
leaves are a glossy, metallic 
green above, brown beneath, 
and are normally 4 Vi-6 in. (11- 
1 5 cm) long and 2-2% in. (5- 
7cm) wide. Lacking sepals and 
petals but with many conspicu- 
ous stamens, the flowers have a 
pale yellow or brownish yellow 
hue with a rusty brown calyx. 
The ellipsoidal or globose fruit is 
fleshy-fibrous, reddish, % in. 
(2cm) in diameter. 

Although 28 alkaloids have 
been isolated from Gaibulimima 
belgraveana, a psychoactive 
principle has not yet been found 
in the plant. 

This genus has three very simi- 
lar species, and all play impor- 
tant roles in folk medicine. Sev- 
eral vernacular names reported 
from Brazil seem to indicate 
knowledge of psychoactivity, 
e.g., Abre-o-sol (“sun-opener”) 
and Herva da Vida (“herb of 

Sinicuichi (Heimia salicifolia) 
is 2-6 ft (60cm-1 .8m) tall with 
lanceolate leaves %-3'/2 in. (2- 
9cm) long. The yellow flowers 
are borne singly in the leaf axils; 
the persistent bell-shaped calyx 
develops long hornlike appen- 
dages. The shrub grows abun- 
dantly in moist places and along 
streams in the highlands. 

In the Mexican highlands, the 
leaves of H. salicifolia are 
slightly wilted, crushed in water, 
and the preparation is then al- 
lowed to ferment into an intoxi- 
cating drink. Although it is be- 
lieved that excessive use of 
Sinicuichi may be physically 
harmful, there are usually no 
uncomfortable aftereffects. This 
plant contains quinolizidine al- 
kaloids (lythrine, cryogenine, ly- 
foline, nesidine). 


Helichrysum (L.) Moench. 

Straw Flower 

Compositae (Sunflower Family) 
Europe, Africa, Asia 

37 Australia 

Two species are used by witch 
doctors in Zululand “for inhaling 
to induce trances.” It is pre- 
sumed that the plants are 
smoked for these effects. 

Helichrysum foetidum is a tall, 
erect, branching herb 1 0—1 2 in. 
(25-30 cm) in height. It is slightly 
woody near the base and is very 
strongly scented. The lanceo- 
late or lanceolate-ovate, basally 
lobed, entire leaves, measuring 
up to 3 V 2 in. (9 cm) long and 
% in. (2 cm) wide, basally en- 
clasp the stem; they are gray- 
woolly beneath and glandular 
above. The flowers occur in 
loose, terminal, corymbose 
clusters of several stalked 
heads %- 1 1 /2 in. (2-4 cm) in dia- 
meter, subtended by cream-co- 
lored or golden yellow bracts. 
These species of Helichrysum 
are some of the plants known in 
English as Everlasting. 

Coumarine and diterpenes 
have been reported from the 
genus, but no constituents with 
hallucinogenic properties have 
been isolated. 



Hyoscyamus albus L. 

Yellow Henbane 
(Nightshade Family) 

Mediterranean, Near East 


Hyoscyamus niger L. 

Black Henbane 
(Nightshade Family) 

Europe, northern Africa, 
4 1 southwestern and central 

HELICOSTYLIS Trecul ( 12 ) 

HOMALOMENA Schott (142) 

HYOSCYAMUS L. (10-20) 

Helicostylis pedunculata 



Moraceae (Mulberry Family) 

Central America, tropical 
38 zones of South America 

Homalomena lauterbachii Engl. 

Araceae (Arum Family) 

South America, tropical 

39 zones of Asia 

Takini is a sacred tree of the Gui- 
anas. From the red “sap" of the 
bark a mildly poisonous intoxi- 
cant is prepared. Extracts from 
the inner bark of two trees elicit 
central nervous system depres- 
sant effects similar to those pro- 
duced by Cannabis sativa. The 
two species responsible for this 
hallucinogen are H. pedunculata 
and H. tomentosa. 

These two species of trees are 
similar. Both are cylindrical or 
very slightly buttressed forest 
giants 75ft (23 m) tall with grayish 
brown bark; the latex is pale yel- 
low or cream-colored. The leath- 
ery lanceolate-elliptic leaves at- 
tain a length of 7 in. (18cm) and a 
width of 3 in. (8cm). The fleshy, 
pistillate flowers are borne in glo- 
bose cauliflorous heads. 

Very little is known about these 
trees and they are rarely studied. 
The hallucinogen could theoreti- 
cally originate from either of the 
related genera Brosimum or Pir- 
atinera. Extracts from the inner 
bark of both trees have been 
pharmacologically studied; they 
have a softening or dampening 
effect, similar to Cannabis sativa. 

In Papua New Guinea the na- 
tives are said to eat the leaves of 
a species of Homalomena with 
the leaves and bark of Galbuli- 
mima belgraveana to induce a 
violent condition ending in slum- 
ber, during which visions are ex- 
perienced. The rhizomes have a 
number of uses in folk medicine, 
especially for the treatment of 
skin problems. In Malaya an un- 
specified part of a species was 
an ingredient of an arrow 

The species of Homalomena 
are small or large herbs with 
pleasantly aromatic rhizomes. 
The leaves are oblong- 
lanceolate or cordate-ovate, 
borne on very short stems, 
rarely exceeding 6 in. (15cm) in 
length. The spathe usually per- 
sists in fruit. The male and fe- 
male portions of the spadix are 
proximate. The small berries are 
few or many-seeded. 

The chemistry of this group of 
plants has not yet disclosed any 
hallucinogenic principle. 

Although the herb has erect 
stems, it often appears bushy. It 
grows to approximately 8-12 in. 
(40-50cm) high. The light green 
stems and serrated leaves, as 
well as the funnel-shaped flow- 
ers and fruits, are all pileous. 
The herb blooms from January 
to July. The color of the flowers 
is light yellow with deep violet on 
the interior. The seeds have a 
whitish or ocher color, occasion- 
ally a gray color. 

This henbane was the most 
widely used magical herb and 
medicinal plant. The hallucino- 
gen was an important medium in 
antiquity, used to promote a 
trance and taken by oracles and 
divinitory women. In the ancient 
earth oracle of Gaia, it is the 
“dragon’s herb.” The goddess of 
the witches, Hecate, uses “crazy- 
maker” in the Kolch oracle. Late 
antiquity gives us “Zeus’s Beans” 
in the oracle of Zeus-Ammon and 
the Roman god Jupiter, lathe 
Delphi oracles of Apollo, who is 
the God of “prophetic insanity,” it 
is known as “Apollo's Plant.” 

The entire plant contains the 
tropane alkaloids hyoscyamine 
and scopolamine. 

Henbane is a coarse annual or 
biennial, viscid, hairy, strong- 
smelling herb up to about 30 in. 
(76cm) tall. The leaves are en- 
tire or occasionally have a few 
large teeth, ovate, 6-8 in. (15— 
20 cm) long, the lower cauline 
amplexicaul leaves being oblong 
and smaller. The flowers, yellow 
or greenish yellow veined with 
purple, attain a length of about 
1V4 in. (4cm) and are borne in 
two ranks in a scorpioid cyme. 
The fruit is a many-seeded cap- 
sule enclosed in the persistent 
calyx with its five triangular 
points becoming rigid. The 
seeds release a powerful and 
distinctive odor when squeezed. 

In antiquity and the Middle 
Ages, Hyoscyamus niger was 
employed in Europe as an im- 
portant ingredient of the witches’ 
brews and ointments. It not only 
reduced pain but also induced 

The active principles in this 
solanaceous genus are tropane 
alkaloids, especially scopola- 
mine. Scopolamine is a potent 
hallucinogenic agent. 





Ipomoea violacea L. 

Morning Glory 
(Morning Glory Family) 

Mexico to South America 

chroma fuchsioides (Benth.) Miers 
Solan aceae 
(Nightshade Family) 

Tropical and subtropical 
42 zones of South America 

Justicia pectoralis Jacq. var. 
stenophylla Leonard 

Acanthaceae (Acanthus Family) 
Tropical and warm zones of 
44 Central and South America 

Justicia pectoralis var. steno- 
phylla differs from the wide- 
spread J. pectoralis mainly in its 
smaller stature and its very nar- 
rowly lanceolate leaves and 
shorter inflorescence. It is an 
herb up to 1 ft (30cm) tall, with 
erect or ascending stems, 
sometimes rooting at the lower 
nodes. The internodes are 
short, usually less than % in. 

(2 cm) long. The numerous 
leaves measure normally %- 
2'A in. (2-5 cm) long, %— 1 in. (1- 
2 cm) wide. The dense inflores- 
cence, covered with glandular 
hairs, may reach a length of 4 in. 
(10cm) but is usually much 
shorter. The inconspicuous 
flowers, about 'Ain. (5mm) long, 
are white or violet, frequently 
purple-spotted. The fruit, 'A in. 

(5 mm) long, bears flat, reddish 
brown seeds. 

Chemical examination of Jus- 
ticia has been inconclusive. 
Preliminary indications that the 
leaves of J. pectoralis var. ste- 
nophylla contain tryptamines 
(DMT) need confirmation. The 
dried herb contains coumarin. 

tec and Mazatec Indians call the 
seeds Piule; the Zapotecs, Ba- 
doh Negro. In pre-Conquest 
days, the Aztecs knew them as 
Tlililtzin and employed them in 
the same way as Ololiuqui, the 
seeds of another Morning Glory, 
Turbina corymbosa. 

Ipomoea violacea, known 
also as I. rubrocaerulea, is an 
annual vine with entire, ovate, 
deeply cordate leaves 2V£-4in. 
(6-1 0 cm) long, 3 A-3in. (2-8 cm) 
wide. The inflorescence is three- 
or four-flowered. The flowers 
vary from white to red, purple, 
blue or violet-blue, and measure 
2-2 3 A in. (5-7 cm) wide at the 
mouth of the trumpet-shaped, 
corolla tube, 2-2 3 A in. (5-7 cm) 
long. The ovoid fruit, about 'A in. 
(1 cm) in length, bears elongate, 
angular black seeds. 

This variable species ranges 
through western and southern 
Mexico and Guatemala and in 
the West Indies. It can be found 
as well in tropical South Ameri- 
ca. It is well known in horticul- 

In Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, 
the seeds of this vine are es- 
teemed as one of the principal 
hallucinogens for use in divina- 
tion as well as magico-religious 
and curing rituals. The Chinan- 

-\mong the Kamsa Indians of 
the Colombian Andes, I. fuch- 
sioides is taken by shamans for 
difficult diagnoses. 

The intoxication is not plea- 
sant, leaving aftereffects for 
several days. The shrub is va- 
lued also as a medicine for 
treating difficulties with digestion 
or bowel function, and to aid in 
cases of difficult childbirth. 

lochroma fuchsioides, a 
shrub or small tree 10—1 5 ft (3- 
4.5 m) tall, but sometimes larger, 
occurs in the Colombian and 
Ecuadorean Andes at about 
7,000ft (2,200m) altitude. The 
branches are reddish brown, 
and the leaves, obovate-oblong, 
measure 4-6 in. (10-15cm) in 
length. The clustered tubular or 
bell-shaped flowers are red, 1- 
1 Vi in. (2.5-4cm) long. The red 
fruit is an ovoid or pyriform berry 
about % in. (2 cm) in diameter, 
partially enclosed in a persistent 

The plant contains 

Kaempferia galanga is used as 
a hallucinogen in New Guinea. 
Throughout the range of this 
species, the highly aromatic rhi- 
zome is valued as a spice to fla- 
vor rice, and also in folk medi- 
cine as an expectorant and 
carminative as well as an aph- 
rodisiac. A tea of the leaves is 
employed for sore throat, swel- 
lings, rheumatism, and eye in- 
fections. In Malaysia, the plant 
was added to the arrow poison 
prepared from Antiaris toxicaria. 

This short-stemmed herb has 
flat-spreading, green, round 
leaves measuring 3-6 in. (8- 
15 cm) across. The white flow- 
ers (with a purple spot on the 
lip), which are fugacious, appear 
singly in the center of the plant 
and attain approximately 1 in. 
(2.5cm) in breadth. 

Beyond the high content of 
essential oil in the rhizome, little 
is known of the chemistry of the 
plant. Psychoactive activity 
might possibly be due to consti- 
tuents of the essential oils. 

This South African shrub has 
orange-colored flowers and is 
reported to be “hallucinogenic.” 
In Africa it is called Dacha, Dag- 
gha, or Wild Dagga, which 
means “wild hemp.” The Hotten- 
tots and the Bush people smoke 
the buds and the leaves as a 
narcotic. It is possible that thjs 
plant is one of the narcotic 
plants called Kanna (compare to 
Sceletium tortuosum). The resi- 
nous leaves, or the resin ex- 
tracted from the leaves, are 
smoked alone or mixed with to- 
bacco. Chemical studies are 

In California the plant has 
been grown and tested, reveal- 
ing a bitter-tasting smoke and a 
lightly psychoactive effect that is 
reminiscent of both Cannabis 
and Datura. In eastern South 
Africa, the closely related Leo- 
notis ovata is reportedly used for 
the same purpose. 

On the dry steppes of Turkestan, 
the Tajik, Tatar, Turkoman, and 
Uzbek tribesmen have used a 
tea made from the toasted 
leaves of the mint Lagochilus in- 
ebrians as an intoxicant. The 
leaves are frequently mixed with 
stems, fruiting tops, and flowers, 
and honey and sugar may occa- 
sionally be added to lessen the 
intense bitterness of the drink. 

This plant has been well stu- 
died from the pharmacological 
point of view in Russia. It is re- 
commended for its antihemor- 
rhagic and hemostatic effects to 
reduce permeability of blood 
vessels and as an aid in blood 
coagulation. It has also been 
considered helpful in treating 
certain allergies and skin pro- 
blems. It has sedative 

Phytochemical studies have 
shown the presence of a crys- 
talline compound called lagochi- 
line — a diterpene of the grinde- 
lian type. 

This compound is not known to 
be hallucinogenic. 


Kaempferia galanga L. 


Zingiberaceae (Ginger Family) 
Tropical zones of Africa, 

45 southeastern Asia 


Lagochilus inebrians Bunge 
Turkestan Mint 

Labiatae (Mint Family) 
Central Asia 


Leonotis leonurus (L.) R. Br 
Lion’s Tail 

Labiatae (Mint Family) 
South Africa 


Latua, 6-30 ft (2-9 m) tall, has 
one or more main trunks. The 
bark is reddish to grayish brown. 
The spiny branches, rigid and 
1 in. (2.5cm) long, arise in the 
leaf axils. The narrow elliptic 
leaves, dark to light green 
above, paler beneath, are mar- 
ginally entire or serrate and 
measure 1%-1% in. (3!/z- 
4'/2 cm) by %— 1 in. (1.5-4cm). 
The flowers have a persistent, 
bell-shaped, green to purplish 
calyx and a larger, magenta to 
red-violet, urceolate corolla 1%- 
I'/zin. (3.5-4 cm) long, in. 

(1 cm) wide at the mouth. The 
fruit is a globose berry about 
1 in. (2.5cm) in diameter, with 
numerous kidney-shaped 

The leaves and fruit of L. pub- 
iflora contain 0.18% hyoscya- 
mine and atropine and 0.08% 

LATUA Phil. 

Latua pubiflora (Griseb.) Baill. 

(Nightshade Family) 



LEONOTIS (pers.) R. Br. 



Leonurus sibiricus L. 

Siberian ’Motherwort 

Labiatae,(Mint Family) 

Siberia to East Asia. Central 

49 and South America 


LOBELIA L. (250) 

Lobelia tupa L. 

Tabaco del Diablo 
Campanulaceae (Lobeliaceae) 
(Harebell Family) 

Tropical and warm zones 


LOPHOPHORA Coult. (2) 

Lophophora williamsii (Lem.) Coult. 

Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 

Mexico, Texas 


This herb grows erect and tall, 
reaching over 6ft (2 m) often on 
a single stem. It has maxiiliform 
branches and finely serrated, 
dark green leaves. The violet 
flowers appear on the ends of 
each stem and the inflorescence 
can be long and attractive. 

The Siberian Motherwort is 
mentioned in the ancient Chi- 
nese Shih Ching (the Book of 
Songs, written approximately 
1 000-500 b. c.), where it is 
called t'uei. Later it was occa- 
sionally praised as a medicinal 
plant in old Chinese herbals. 

The dried leaves, harvested 
from the flowering plant, are 
smoked as marijuana substitute 
in Central and South America 
(1—2 g per cigarette). 

In the plant, 0.1 % of the flavo- 
noid glycoside rutin has been 
ascertained. Of particular inter- 
est with regard to the psychoac- 
tive properties was the discov- 
ery of three new diterpenes: 
leosibiricine, leosibirine, and the 
isomers isoleosibiricine in 
essential oil. 

This beautiful, red- or red-pur- 
ple-flowered, 6-9 ft (2-3 m) high 
polymorphic Lobelia is well re- 
cognized as toxic in the Andes 
of southern Peru and northern 
Chile, where it is called Tupa or 
Tabaco del Diablo (“devil’s to- 
bacco”). It flourishes in dry soil, 
and its stems and roots have a 
white latex that irritates the skin. 

The luxuriant foliage clothes 
nearly the whole length of the 
plant with grayish green, elliptic, 
often minutely hairy leaves 4- 
9 in. (10-23 cm) long. VA-3'A in. 
(3-8cm) wide. Carmine red or 
purple, the flowers, 1 'A in. (4cm) 
in length, are borne densely on a 
stalk 14in. (36cm) long. The 
corolla is decurved, sometimes 
recurved with the lobes united at 
the apex. 

Tupa leaves contain the pi- 
peridine alkaloid lobeline, a re- 
spiratory stimulant, as well as 
the diketo- and dihydroxy-deri- 
vatives lobelamidine and nor-'o- 
bedamidine. These constituents 
are not known to possess hallu- 
cinogenic properties. Neverthe- 
less, the smoked leaves have a 
psychoactive effect. 

Two species of Lophophora are 
recognized: they differ morpho- 
logically and chemically. 

Both species of Lophophora 
are small, spineless gray-green 
or bluish green top-shaped 
plants. The succulent chloro- 
phyll-bearing head or crown 
measures up to 3% in. (8cm) in 
diameter and is radially divided 
in from 5 to 13 rounded ribs, 
Each tubercle bears a small, flat 
areole from the top of which 
arises a tuft of hairs 3 A in. (2cm) 
long. The whitish or pinkish 
campanulate, usually solitary, 
5 /a-1 in. (1 .5-2.5 cm) long flow- 
ers are borne in the umbilicate 
center of the crown. 

The Indians cut off the crown 
and dry it for ingestion as a hal- 
lucinogen. This dry, disklike 
head is known as the Mescal 
Button or Peyote Button. 

Lophophora williamsii is 
usually blue-green with from 5 to 
13 ribs and normally straight 
furrows. It has up to 30 alka- 
loids — primarily Mescaline — as 
well as further psychoactive 
phenylethylamines and isoqui- 
nolines. L. diffusa has a gray- 

green, sometimes even a rather 
yellowish green crown with in- 
definite ribs and sinuate furrows. 
The flowers are usually much 
larger than in L. williamsii. The 
chemical constitution is much 

Both species of Lophophora 
inhabit the driest and stoniest of 
desert regions, usually on cal- 
careous soil. When the crown is 
removed, fhe plant will often 
grow new crowns and thus 
Peyotes with multiple heads are 
commonly seen. The hallucino- 
genic effects of Peyote are 
strong, with kaleidoscopic, richly 
colored visions. The other 
senses — hearing, feeling, 
taste— can also be affected. 
There are reportedly two stages 
in the intoxication. At first, a per- 
iod of contentment and sensitiv- 
ity occurs. The second phase 
brings great calm and muscular 
sluggishness, with a shift in at- 
tention from external stimuli to 
introspection and meditation 

LYCOPERDON L. (50-1t>0) 

Lycoperdon mixtecorum Heim 
Lycoperdon marginatum Vitt. 


(Club Moss Family) 

Temperate zones of Mexico 


In northern Mexico, among the 
Tarahumara of Chihuahua, a 
species of Lycoperdon, known 
as Kalamoto, is taken by sor- 
cerers to enable them to ap- 
proach people without being de- 
tected and to make people sick. 
In southern Mexico, the Mixtecs 
of Oaxaca employ two species 
to induce a condition of half- 
sleep, during which it is said that 
voices and echoes can be 

Lycoperdon mixtecorum, 
known only from Oaxaca, is 
small, attaining a diameter of no 
more than 1 Vi in . (3 cm). It is 
subglobose, somewhat flat- 
tened, abruptly constricted into 
a peduncle scarcely Vs in. 

(3 mm) long. The exterior sur- 
face is densely cobbled-pustuli- 
form and light tan in color. The 
interior substance is straw co- 

The spherical spores, brown- 
ish tawny with a subtle tinge of 
violet, measure up to lOp. This 
terrestrial species grows in light 
forest and in pastures. 

Psychoactive constituents 
have not yet been isolated. 




( 6 ) 

Mammillaria spp. 
Pincushion Cactus 

Mandragora officinarum L. 


Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 
Southwestern North 
53 America, Central America 

(Nightshade Family) 

Southern Europe, northern 
54 Africa, western Asia to 


Probably no plant has had a 
more fantastic history than the 
Mandrake. As a magical plant 
and hallucinogen, its extraordin- 
ary place in European folklore 
can nowhere be equaled. 

Known for its toxic and real and 
presumed medicinal properties, 
Mandrake commanded the fear 
and respect of Europeans 
throughout the Middle Ages and 
earlier. Its folk uses and attri- 
butes were inextricably bound 
up with the Doctrine of Signa- 
tures, because of its anthropo- 
morphic root. 

While there are six species of 
Mandragora, it is M. officinarum 
of Europe and the Near East 
that has played the most impor- 
tant role as a hallucinogen in 
magic and witchcraft. It is a 

stemless perennial herb up to 
1 ft (30cm) high, with a thick, 
usually forking root and large, 
stalked, wrinkled, ovate leaves, 
marginally entire or toothed and 
measuring up to 11 in. (28 cm) in 
length. The whitish green, pur- 
plish, or bluish bell-shaped flow- 
ers, 1’4 in. (3cm) in length, are 
borne in clusters among the 
tufted leaves. The globose or 
ovoid, succulent yellow berry 
has a delightful fragrance. 

The total content of tropane 
alkaloids in the root is 0.4%. 
The principal alkaloids are 
hyoscyamine and scopolamine, 
but atropine, cuscohygrine, or 
mandragorine is also present. 

Among the most important 
“false Peyotes” of the Tarahu- 
mara Indians are several spe- 
cies of Mammillaria, all of them 
round and stout-spined plants. 

nylethylamine has been isolated 
from M. heyderii, a species clo- 
sely related to M. craigii. Horde- 
nine is present in many species. 

Mammillaria craigii is globose 
but apically somewhat flattened 
with conical, angled tubercles 
about V 2 in. (1 cm) long and axils 
and areoles at first woolly; the 
central spines are about '4 in. 

(5 mm) long. The rose-colored 
flower attains a length of % in. 

(1 ,5 cm), M. grahamii may be 
globose or cylindric, 2% in. 
(6cm) in diameter with small tu- 
bercles and naked axils; the 
central spines are 3 A in. (2 cm) or 
less in length. The flowers, 
which attain a length of 1 in, 
(2.5cm), have violet or purplish 
segments, sometimes with 
white margins. 


MAQUIRA Aubl. (2) 

Maquira sclerophylla (Ducke) C. C. 

Rape dos Indios 
Moraceae (Mulberry Family) 

Tropical zones of South 

55 America 

In the Pariana region of the Bra- 
zilian Amazon, the Indians for- 
merly prepared a potent halluci- 
nogenic snuff that, although no 
longer prepared and used, is 
known as Rape dos Indios (“In- 
dian snuff”). It is believed to 
have been made from the fruit of 
an enormous forest tree, Ma- 
quira sclerophylla (known also 
as Olmedioperebea sclero- 

Maquira sclerophylla attains a 
height of 75-1 00 ft (23-30 m). 
The latex is white. Very thick and 
heavy, the ovate or oblong- 
ovate, marginally inrolled leaves 
are 8-12 in. (20-30 cm) long, 3- 
QVz in. (8-1 6 cm) wide. The male 
flowering heads are globose, up 
to about V 2 in. (1 cm) in dia- 
meter; the female inflores- 
cences are borne in the leaf ax- 
ils and have one or rarely two 
flowers. The drupe or fruit, cin- 
namon-colored and fragrant, is 
globose, %- 1 in. (2-2. 5cm) in 
diameter. The tree contains- 
cardiac glycosides. 





Mimosa hostilis (Mart.) Benth. (Mi- 
mosa tenuiflora) 

Jurema Tree 

Mitragyna speciosa Korthals 

Rubiaceae (Madder Family) 

Southeast Asia (Thailand, 
57 northern Malay Peninsula to 
Borneo, New Guinea) 

In the dry caatingas of eastern 
Brazil, this busy, sparsely spiny 
treelet flourishes abundantly. 
The spines are basally swollen, 
'/sin. (3mm) long. Its finely pin- 
nate leaves are 114-1% in. (3- 
5 cm) long. The flowers, which 
occur in loosely cylindrical 
spikes, are white and fragrant. 
The legume or pod, about 1- 
114 in. (2.5-3 cm) long, breaks 
into 4-6 sections. An alkaloid 
was isolated from the root of this 
treelet and called nigerine. It 
was later shown to be identical 
with the hallucinogenic 

Several species of Mimosa 
are called Jurema in eastern 
Brazil. M. hostilis is often known 
as Jurema Preta (“black jure- 
ma”). It is identical to the Mexi- 
can Tepescohuite (M. tenui- 
flora). The related M. verrucosa, 
from the bark of which a stupe- 
facient is said to be derived, is 
frequently called Jurema Branca 
(“white jurema”). 

The tropical tree or shrub grows 
in marshy areas. Often it grows 
only to 6-9 ft (3-4 m) high, oc- 
casionally to 36-42 ft (12-1 6 m). 
It has an erect stem with forked 
branches that grow obliquely 
upward. The green oval leaves 
(8-1 2 cm) are very broad and 
become narrower toward the tip, 
which is pointed. The flowers 
are deep yellow and hang in 
globular clusters. The seeds are 

The dried leaves are smoked, 
chewed, or worked into an ex- 
tract called Kratom or Mambog. 

The psychoactive properties 
of kratom are paradoxical. Per- 
sonal research, the descriptions 
of it in the literature, as well as 
the pharmacological character- 
istics of the material have re- 
vealed kratom to be simulta- 
neously stimulating like cocaine 
and soothing like morphine. The 
stimulating effects begin within 5 
to 10 minutes of chewing the 
fresh leaves. 

As early as the 1 9 th century 
the use of Kratom as an opium 
substitute and a curative for 
opium addiction was reported. 
There are numerous indole al- 
kaloids present in the plant. The 
primary constituent is mitragy- 
nine, which is apparently easily 
tolerated and shows barely any 
toxicity even in high doses. 


Mucuna pruriens has not been 
reported as a hallucinogen, but 
the plant has been chemically 
shown to be rich in psychoactive 
constituents (DMT, 5-MeO-DMT). 

This stout, scandent herb, 
with acute angulate stems, has 
three-foliolate leaves. The leaf- 
lets, oblong or ovate, are den- 
sely hairy on both surfaces. The 
dark purple or bluish flowers, 3 A- 
VA in. (2-3 cm) long, are borne 
in short hanging racemes. The 
pods, with long, stiff, stinging 
hairs, measure about iy2-3’/2 in. 
(4-9 cm) long, 'A in. (1 cm) thick. 

The total indole alkyiamine 
content was studied from the 
point of view of its hallucino- 
genic activity. It was found that 
marked behavioral changes oc- 
curred that could be equated 
with hallucinogenic activity. It is 
possible that Indian peoples 
may have discovered and uti- 
lized some of these psychoac- 
tive properties of M. pruriens. 
The powdered seeds are con- 
sidered aphrodisiac in India. 

The seeds contain DMT and are 
used as an Ayahuasca analog 

Nutmeg and mace can, in large 
doses, induce an intoxication 
characterized by space and time 
distortion, a feeling of detach- 
ment from reality, and visual and 
auditory hallucinations. Fre- 
quently with unpleasant effects 
such as severe headache, dizzi- 
ness, nausea, tachycardia, nut- 
meg intoxication is variable. 

Myristica fragrans is a hand- 
some tree, unknown in a truly 
wild state, but widely cultivated 
for nutmeg, from the seed, and 
for mace, from the red aril sur- 
rounding the seed. The two 
spices have different tastes 
because of differing concentra- 
tions of components of their 
essential oils. The aromatic 
fraction of oil of nutmeg is made 
up of nine components belong- 
ing to the groups terpenes and 
aromatic ethers. The major 
component — myristicine — is a 
terpene, but its biological activity 
is believed to be that of an 

The psychotropic activity is 
thought to be due primarily to 
aromatic ethers (myristicine and 


Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC. 

(120) MYRISTICA Gronov. (120) 

Myristica fragrans Houtt. 


Leguminosae (Pea Family) 

Tropical and warm zones of 
58 both hemispheres 

Myristicaceae (Nutmeg Family) 

Tropical and warm zones of 
59 Europe, Africa, Asia 


Nymphaea ampla (Salisb.) DC. Oncidium cebolleta (Jacq.) Sw. 

Water Lily Hikuri Orchid 


(Water Lily Family) Orchidaceae (Orchid Family) 

Temperate and warm zones Central America, South 

60 of both hemispheres 61 America, Florida 

There is evidence that Nym- Oncidium cebolleta is an epi- 
phaea may have been employed phytic orchid that grows on 
as a hallucinogen in both the Old steep, stone cliffs and trees in 
and New Worlds. The isolation the Tarahumara Indian country 
of the psychoactive apomor- of Mexico. It is employed as a 
phine has offered chemical sup- temporary surrogate of Peyote 
port to this speculation. Nucifer- or Hikuri (Lophophora william- 
ine and nornuciferine are also sii). Little is known, however, of 
isolated from N. ampla. its use. 

Nymphaea ampla has thickish The tropical orchid is widely 
dentate leaves, purple beneath, distributed in the New World, 
measuring 5V^— 1 1 in. (14- The pseudo-bulbs appear as lit- 

28cm) across. The beautiful, tie more than a swelling at the 
showy white flowers, with 30- base of the fleshy, erect, round 
1 90 yellow stamens, become 3- leaves, grayish green, often 
5 'A in. (7-1 3 cm) across at ma- spotted with purple. The flower- 

turity. The Egyptian native ing spike, often arching, has a 

N. caerulea’s oval, peltate green stalk with purplish or pur- 

leaves, irregularly dentate, pie-brown spots. The flowers 

measure 5-6 in. (12—15 cm) in have brownish yellow sepals 
diameter and are green-purple and petals spotted with dark 
blotched beneath. The light blue brown blotches. The three-lobed 
flowers, dull white in the center, lip, 3 A in. (2cm) long by 1 Vs in. 
open three days in the mid- (3 cm) across the mid-lobe, is 

morning; they measure 3-6 in. bright yellow with reddish brown 
(7.5-15 cm) across; the petals, marks, 
acute-lanceolate, number 1 4 to An alkaloid has been reported 

20, while the stamens number from Oncidium cebolleta. 

50 or more. 


PANAEOLUS (Fr.) (20-60 


Panaeolus cyanescens Berk, et Br, 
Blue Meanies 


Warm zones of both 
63 hemispheres 

A plant of many uses among the 
Indians, this tall, treelike colum- 
nar cactus, arising from a 6ft 
(1.8 m) trunk, attains a height of 
35ft (10.5m), The short spines 
are characteristically gray with 
black tips. The 2— 3in. (5-8 cm) 
flowers are purplish in the out- 
ermost petals, white in the inner 
parts. The fruit, globose and 
measuring 2'/2— 3 in. (6-8 cm) in 
diameter, is densely covered 
with yellow wool and long yellow 

The Tarahumara, who know 
the plant as Cawe and Wicho- 
waka, take a drink made from 
the juice of the young branches 
as a narcotic. It causes dizzi- 
ness and visual hallucinations. 
The term Wichowaka also 
means “insanity” in the Tarahu- 
mara language. There are a 
numberof purely medicinal uses 
of this cactus. Recent studies 
have isolated 4-hydroxy- 
and 4-tetrahydroisoquinoline 
alkaloids from this plant. 


Panaeolus cyanescens is a 
small, fleshy or nearly membra- 
naceous, campanulate mush- 
room. The slender stipe is fra- 
gile and the lamellae are 
variegated, with metuloid co- 
lored, pointed cystidia on the 
sides. The spores are black. The 
fruiting bodies take on bluish 
flecks with age or after bruising. 

The islanders of Bali pick 
Panaeolus cyanescens from 
cow and water buffalo dung and 
ingest them for celebrations and 
artistic inspiration. The mush- 
room is also sold as a hallucino- 
gen to strangers as they pass 
through on their travels, 

Although this mushroom is 
primarily tropical, the discovery 
that it contains psilocybine was 
made with material collected in a 
garden in France, Up to 1 .2% of 
psilocine and 0.6% of psilocy- 
bine has been found in this 

Britt, et Rose 

Pachycereus pecten-aboriginum 
(Engelm.) Britt, et Rose 

Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 


PANAEOLUS (Fr.) (20-60) 


Panaeolus sphinctrinus (Fr.) Quelet 




One of the sacred hallucinogenic The flesh is thin, in color simi- 

mushrooms employed in divina- lar to the surface, with scarcely 
tion and other magic ceremonies any odor. Several investigators 
in northeastern Oaxaca, Mexico, have at times argued that 
among the Mazatec and Chi- P sphinctrinus is not among the 
nantec Indians isthis memberof hallucinogenic mushrooms 
the small genus Panaeolus. It is used by shamans in Indian 
known in Mazatec as T-ha-na- communities of Oaxaca, but this 

sa, She-to, and To-shka. She-to view is contradicted by ample 
means “pasture mushroom” and evidence. Its use by Oaxacan 
To-shka, “intoxicating mush- Indians along with so many 

room.” While not so important as other mushroom species de- 
the several species of Psilocybe monstrates the tendency among 
and Stropharia, P. sphinctrinus shamans to use a surprisingly 
is on occasion used by certain wide range of different mush- 
shamans. This and other spe- rooms, depending on season, 
cies of Panaeolus have been re- weather variation, and specific 
ported to contain the hallucino- usage. Investigators now be- 
genic alkaloid psilocybine. lieve that there may be more 

Growing on cow dung in for- species and genera of mush- 

ests, open fields, and along rooms in use among Mexican 

roads, P. sphinctrinus is a deli- Indian populations than those 

cate yellowish brown mushroom now known, 
upto4in. (10cm) in height. It In European Panaeolus 

has an ovoid-campanulate, ob- sphinctrinus no psilocybine has 
tusely pointed, tan-gray cap up been detected. Neither have 
to 1 'A in. (3 cm) in diameter. The psychoactive effects been de- 
stipe is dark grayish. The dark termined in human pharmacolo- 

brownish black gills bear black, gical experiments. It is possible 

lemon-shaped spores that vary that chemically different types 
in size; they can measure 12 to exist, 

1 5 by 7.5 to 8.3 pi. 


PANAEOLUS (Fr) (20-60) 


Panaeoius subbalteatus Berk, et 

Dark-rimmed Mottlegill 

Eurasia, North and Central 

65 America 


Pancratium trianthum Herbert 

(Amaryllis Family) 

Tropical and warm zones of 
66 Africa and Asia 

PANDANUS L. fil. (600) 

Pandanus sp. 

Screw Pine 
(Screwpine Family) 

Tropical and warm zones of 
67 Europe, Africa, Asia 

PEGANUM L. (6) j 

Peganum harmala L, 

Syrian Rue 
(Caltrop Family) 

Western Asia to northern In- 
68 dia; Mongolia, Manchuria 

The Dark-rimmed Mottlegill is 
widely distributed throughout 
Europe. It grows in dung-ferti- 
lized, grassy earth, in particular 
in horse pastures and in con- 
junction with horse manure. The 
cap is%-2% in. (2-6 cm) wide 
and somewhat smooth. This 
mushroom spreads rapidly. It is 
at first damp brown and grows 
drier toward the middle, so that 
the edge often appears markedly 
darker. The red-brown lamellae 
are curved and eventually be- 
come black due to the spores. 

There is no information 
passed on about a traditional 
use of this mushroom. It is pos- 
sible that it was an ingredient in 
the mead or beer of the Ger- 
mans. Nevertheless, this mush- 
room has a symbiotic relation- 
ship with the horse, the sacred 
animal of the German god of 
ecstasy, Wodan. 

Thef ruiting body contains 0.7 % 
psilocybine as well as 0.46 % 
baeocystine, a fair amount of ser- 
otonine and also 5-hydroxy-tryp- 
tophane, but no psilocine. Activity 
is experienced with 1 .5 g dried 
mushroom; 2.7 g are visionary. 

Many of the 1 5 species of this 
plant are potent cardiac poi- 
sons; others are emetics; one is 
said to cause death by paralysis 
of the central nervous system. 

P. trianthum is reputedly one of 
the most toxic species. 

Little is known of the use of 
Pancratium trianthum. In Dobe, 
Botswana, the Bushmen report- 
edly value the plant as a halluci- 
nogen, rubbing the sliced bulb 
over cuts made in the scalp, In 
tropical west Africa, P. trianthum 
seems to be religiously important. 

The species of Pancratium 
have tunicated bulbs and linear 
leaves, mostly appearing with 
the flowers. The white or green- 
ish white flowers, borne in an 
umbel terminating in an erect, 
solid, stout scape, have a 
funnel-shaped perianth with a 
long tube and narrow segments. 
The stamens, located at the 
throat of the perianth, are joined 
together at the base into a kind 
of cup. The seeds are angled 
and black. 

In the bulb of P. trianthum the 
alkaloids lycorine and hordenine 
have been detected, 

The Syrian Rue is an herb native 
to desert areas. It is a bushy 
shrub attaining a height of 3ft 
(1 m). The leaves are cut into 
narrowly linear segments, and 
the small white flowers occur in 
the axils of branches. The glo- 
bose, deeply lobed fruit contains 
many flat, angled seeds of a 
brown color, bitter taste, and 
narcotic odor. The plant pos- 
sesses psychoactive principles: 
|3-carboline alkaloids— harmine, 
harmaline, tetrahydroharmine — 
and related bases known to oc- 
cur in at least eight families of 
higher plants. These constitu- 
ents are found in Peganum har- 
mala in the seeds. 

The high esteem that P. har- 
mala enjoys in folk medicine 
wherever the plant occurs may 
indicate a former semisacred 
use as a hallucinogen in native 
religion and magic. It has 
recently been postulated that 
P. harmala may have been the 
source of Soma or Huoma of the 
ancient peoples of Persia and 

Natives of New Guinea employ 
the fruit of a species of Panda- 
nustor hallucinogenic purposes, 
but little is known of this use. 

Dimethyltryptamine has been 
isolated and identified in Panda- 
nus nuts. Pandanus is a very 
large genus of the Old World 
tropics. It is dioecious, treelike, 
sometimes climbing, with pro- 
minent flying-buttress- or stiltlike 
roots. The leaves of some spe- 
cies attain a length of 15 ft 
(4.5 m) and are used for matting: 
they are commonly long, stiff, 
swordlike, armed with prickles, 
hooked forward and backward. 
The naked flowers occur in large 
heads enclosed in spathes. The 
aggregate fruit or syncarpium, is 
a large, heavy, hard, composite 
ball-like, orconelike mass com- 
prising the union of the angled, 
easily detachable carpels. Most 
species of Pandanus occur 
along the seacoast or in salt 
marshes. The fruits of some 
species are used as food in 
Southeast Asia. 


PELECYPHORA Ehrenb. (2) 



PETUNIA Juss. (40) 


Pelecyphora aselliformis Ehrenb. 

Pernettya furens (Hook, ex DC.) 

Petunia violacea Lindl. 

Peucedanum japonicum Thunb. 


Hierba Loca 




Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 

Ericaceae (Heath Family) 

(Nightshade Family) 

Umbelliferae (Parsley Family) 


Mexico to the Andes; Gala- 

Warm zones of North 

Temperate zones of Europe, 


70 pagos and Falkland Islands; 
New Zealand 

7 1 America, South America 

72 southern Africa, Asia 

•v f 



There are suspicions that this 
round cactus may be valued in 
Mexico as a “false Peyote.” It is 
locally known as Peyote and 

A beautiful cactus, P. aselli- 
formis is a solitary, gray-green, 
tufted, cylindric-conical plant 1- 
21/2 in. (2.5-6.5cm), although 
rarely up to 4 in. (10cm) in dia- 
meter. The laterally flattened tu- 
bercles are spiraled, not ar- 
ranged on ribs, and bear very 
small, scalelike, pectinate 
spines. The apical bell-shaped 
flowers measure up to 1 14 in. 

(3 cm) in width; the outer seg- 
ments are white, the inner red- 

Recent investigations have 
indicated the presence of alka- 
loids, mescaline among others. 
When consumed, the cactus 
has a similar effect to Peyote. 

Numerous reports indicate that 
Pernettya is intoxicating. The 
fruit of P. furens, the Huedhued 
or Hierba Loca of Chile, causes 
mental confusion, madness, 
and even permanent insanity. 
The effects of the intoxication 
are said to be similar to those 
caused by Datura. Taglli, or 
P parvifolia, has toxic fruit cap- 
able, when ingested, of inducing 
hallucinations as well as other 
psychic and motor alterations. 

It has been suggested that 
Pernettya was employed by 
aboriginal peoples as a magico- 
religious hallucinogen. 

These two species of Pernet- 
tya are small, sprawling to sub- 
erect shrubs with densely leafy 
branches. The flowers are white 
to rose-tinted. The berrylike fruit 
is white to purple. 

A recent report from highland 
Ecuador has indicated that a 
species of Petunia is valued as a 
hallucinogen. It is called Shanin 
in Ecuador. Which group of In- 
dians employs it, what species, 
and how it is prepared for use 
are not known. It is said to in- 
duce a feeling of levitation or of 
soaring through the air, a typical 
characteristic of many kinds of 
hallucinogenic intoxications. 

Most of the cultivated types of 
Petunia are hybrids derived from 
the purple-flowered Petunia vio- 
tacea and the white Petunia ax- 
illaris. These species are native 
to southern South America. 

Phytochemical studies of the 
horticulturally important genus 
Petunia are lacking, but as a so- 
lanaceous group allied to Nicoti- 
ana — the tobaccos— it may well 
contain biologically active 

Peucedanum japonicum is a 
stout perennial, blue-green herb 
with thick roots and short rhi- 
zomes. The solid, fibrous stems 
attain a length of 20-40in. (0.5- 
1 m). The thick leaves are 8- 
24in. (20-61 cm) long, twice or 
thrice ternate with obovate- 
cuneate leaflets 1 14-214 in. (3- 
6 cm) long. The flowers are 
borne in umbellate clusters. The 
1 0 to 20 rays are %-1 14 in. (2- 
3cm) long. The ellipsoid fruit is 
minutely hairy, 11/2-2 in. (3.5- 
5cm) long. This plant is com- 
mon on sandy places near sea- 

The root of Fang-K'uei is em- 
ployed medicinally in China as 
an eliminative, diuretic, tussic, 
and sedative. Although thought 
to be rather deleterious, it may, 
with prolonged use, have tonic 

Alkaloidal constituents have 
been reported from Peuceda- 
num. Coumarin and furocou- 
marin are widespread in the 
genus and occur in P japoni- 


PHRAGMITES Adans. (1) 

Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. ex 

Common Reed 
Gramineae (Grass Family) 


PSILOCYBE (Fr.) Quelet (180) 

Psilocybe cubensis (Earle) Sing. 

San Isidro 


Nearly cosmopolitan in the 
76 tropics 


Phalaris arundinacea L. 
Red Canary Grass 

Graminaea (Grass Family) 


Phytolacca acinosa Roxb. 

This perennial grass has grayish 
green stalks that grow to 6 ft (2 m) 
and can be split lengthwise. The 
long, broad leaves have rough 
edges. The panicle can take on a 
light green or red-violet colora- 
tion. The calyx holds one flower. 

The Red Canary Grass was 
known already in antiquity. Thus 
far, no traditional use of Phalaris 
arundinacea as a psychoactive 
substance is known. 

The psychoactive constitu- 
ents of Phalaris were first no- 
ticed by a phytochemical study 
on grasses done for agricultural 
purposes. It is possible that in 
the past few years “cellar sha- 
mans" might have been experi- 
menting with a possible psy- 
choactive use for the grass in 
Ayahuasca analogs and DMT 

The entire grass contains in- 
dole alkaloids, which are highly 
variable according to their spe- 
cies, tribe, position, and harvest. 
In most, DMT, MMT, and 5- 
MeO-DMT are to be found. The 
grass can also contain high 
concentrations of gramine, an 
extremely toxic alkaloid. 


Tropical and warm zones of 

75 both hemispheres 

The Common Reed, the largest 
grass in Central Europe, often 
grows in harbors. It has a thick, 
many-branched rhizome. The 
stalks are 3-9 ft (1-3 m) high; the 
leaves have rough edges and 
grow up to 1 6-20 in. (40-50 cm) 
long and 14—% in. (1-2 cm) wide. 
The very long panicle, 6-1 6 in, 
(15-40 cm) long, has many dark 
purple flowers. It flowers from 
July to September. Seeds mature 
in winter, at which pointthe leaves 
drop and the panicle turns white, 

The Common Reed had many 
uses in ancient Egypt, particu- 
larly as fibrous material, Tradi- 
tional use for psychoactive pur- 
poses has been documented, 
only as a fermented ingredient in 
a beerlike drink. 

The rootstalk contains DMT, 
5-MeO-DMT, bufotenine, and 
gramine. Reports concerning 
psychoactive properties are pri- 
marily from experiences with an 
Ayahuasca analog made from an 
extract of the roots, lemon juice, 
and the seeds of Peganum har- 
mala. Unpleasant side effects 
such as nausea, vomiting, and 
diarrhea have been described. 

This mushroom, known in Oax- 
aca as Hongo de San Isidro, is 
an important hallucinogen, 
although it should be noted that 
not all shamans will use it. The 
Mazatec name is Di-shi-tjo-le- 
rra-ja (“divine mushroom of 

The mushroom may attain a 
height of 1%— 3in. (4-8 cm), very 
rarely up to 5% in. (1 5 cm). The 
cap, usually %-2 in. (2-5 cm) in 
diameter (rarely larger), is conic- 
campanulate, at first especially 
papillose, then becoming con- 
vex to plane. It is golden yellow, 
pale tan to whitish near the mar- 
gin; in age or upon injury, it may 
become cyanaceous. The stipe 
is hollow, usually thickened at 
the base, white but yellowing or 
becoming ashy red, and 
strongly lined. The gills vary 
from whitish to deep gray-violet 
or purple-brown. The ellipsoid 
spores are purple-brown. 

The active principle in Psilo- 
cybe cubensis is psilocybine. 

Phytolacca acinosa is a glab- 
rous perennial with robust, 
branching green stems up to 3ft 
(91 cm) in length. The elliptic 
leaves average about 4%in. 

(12 cm) long. The white flowers, 
about % in. (1 cm) in diameter, 
are borne on densely flowered 
racemes 4in. (10cm) in length. 
The purple-black, berrylike fruit 
bears small black kidney- 
shaped seeds Vs in. (3 mm) long. 

A well-known Phytolacca in 
China, Shang-lu exists in two 
forms: one with white flowers 
and a white root and one with 
red flowers and a purplish root. 
The latter type is considered to 
be highly toxic, although the for- 
mer is cultivated as a food. The 
flowers— Ch’ang-hau’— are es- 
teemed for treating apoplexy. 
The root is so poisonous that it is 
normally used only externally, 

Phytolacca acinosa is high in 
saponines and the sap of the 
fresh leaves has been reported 
to have antiviral properties. 

PSILOCYBE (Fr.) Queiet (180) 

°silocybe cyanescens Wakefield 
emend. Kriegelsteiner 
Wavy Cap 

North America. 

77 Central Europe 


Psilocybe cyanescens is rela- 
tively easy to identify by its wavy 
brown cap %- 1 % in. (2-4cm) 
wide. It doesn’t live on dung, but 
on decaying plants, coniferous 
mulch, and humus-rich earth. In 
older mushroom guides it is of- 
ten called Hyphaloma cyanes- 
cens. It is very closely related to 
the species Psilocybe azures- 
cens and Psilocybe bohemica, 
both also very powerful 

A traditional or shamanic use 
of this highly potent Psilocybe 
has not yet been documented. 

Today, Psilocybe cyanescens 
is used in Central Europe and 
North America in neo-pagan 
rituals. In addition, cultivated 
mushrooms that have a very 
high concentration of psilocy- 
bine are eaten. Visionary doses 
are 1 g of the dried mushroom, 
which contains approximately 
1 % tryptamine (psilocybine, 
psilocine, and baeocystine). 

PSILOCYBE (Fr.) Queiet (180) 

Psilocybe mexicana Heim 

PSILOCYBE (Fr.) Queiet (180) 

Psilocybe semilanceata (Fr.) Queiet 
■ Liberty Cap 

PSYCHOTRIAL. (1200-1400) 

Psychotria viridis Rui'z et Pavon 


Nearly cosmopolitan 




79 except Mexico 

Rubiaceae (Madder Family) 

Amazonia— from Colombia 
80 t0 Bolivia and eastern Brazil 

Many species of Psilocybe are 
employed in southern Mexico as 
sacred mushrooms, P mexica- 
na being one of the most widely 

P. mexicana grows at altitudes 
of 4, 500-5, 500 ft (1,375- 
1,675m), especially in lime- 
stone regions, isolated or very 
sparsely in moss along trails, in 
wet meadows and fields, and in 
oak and pine forests. One of the 
smallest of the hallucinogenic 
species, it attains a height of 1- 
(rarely) 4 in. (2. 5-1 Ocm). The 
conic campanulate or frequently 
hemispherical cap, 'A-Vk in. 
(1-3 cm) in diameter, is a weak 
straw color or greenish straw 
color (sometimes even brownish 
red) when living, drying to a 
greenish tan or deep yellow; it 
has brown striations, and the 
terminal nipple is often reddish. 
The flesh of the cap turns bluish 
on bruising, The hollow stipe is 
yellow to yellowish pink, red- 
brown near the base. The 
spores are deep sepia to dark 

Psilocybe semilanceata is the 
most common and widespread 
mushroom in the Psilocybe 
genus, The Liberty Cap prefers 
to grow in fields with old manure 
piles and on grassy, fertile mea- 
dows. Its cap,%-1 in. (1-2.5cm) 
wide, is conical and often 
peaked. It usually feels damp and 
slimy. The “head skin’’ is easy to 
peel off. The small iamels are ol- 
ive to red-brown; the spores are 
dark brown or purple-brown. 

P. semilanceata contains high 
concentrations of psilocybine 
(0.97% up to 1 .34%), some psi- 
locine, and less baeocystine 
(0.33%). This species is one of 
the most potent Psilocybe 

Toward the end of the Middle 
Ages in Spain, P. semilanceata 
was probably used as a halluci- 
nogen by women who were ac- 
cused of being witches. Alleg- 
edly the nomads of the Alps 
named P. semilanceata the 
“dream mushroom” and tradi- 
tionally used it as a psycho- 
active substance. Today this 
mushroom is ritually taken in 
certain circles. 

The evergreen shrub can grow 
into a small tree with a woody 
trunk, but usually remains at a 
height of 6-9 ft (2-3 m). Its 
whorled leaves are long and 
narrow with a color ranging from 
light green to dark green and a 
shiny top side. The flowers have 
greenish white petals on long 
stalks. The red fruit js a berry 
that contains numerous small 
long oval seeds, about 1 in. 
(4mm) long. 

The leaves must be gathered 
in the morning. They are used 
either fresh or dried in the pro- 
duction of Ayahuasca. Today 
they are also used as an Aya- 
huasca analog. 

The leaves contain 0.1- 
0.61 % DMT, as well as traces of 
similar alkaloids (MMT, MTHC); 
most of the leaves contain 
around 0.3% DMT. 




SALVIA L. (700) 


( 1000 ) 



Rhynchosia phaseoloides DC. 


Leguminosae (Pea Family) 

Tropical and warm zones of 
81 both hemispheres 

Salvia divinorum Epl. et 

Diviner’s Sage 
Labiatae (Mint Family) 
Oaxaca, Mexico 


Sceletium tortuosum L. 

Scirpus atrovirens Wilid. 

Aizoaceae (Carpetweed Family) 
South Africa 


Cyperaceae (Sedge Family) 


The beautiful red and black 
beans of several species of 
Rhynchosia may have been em- 
ployed in ancient Mexico as a 
hallucinogenic. Paintings of 
these seeds on frescoes dated 
a. d. 300-400 at Tepantitla sug- 
gest former use as a sacred 

These two species are simi- 
lar— scandent vines with flowers 
in long racemes. The flowers of 
R. longeracemosa are yellow; 
the seeds are mottled light and 
dark brown. R. pyramidalis has 
greenish flowers and handsome 
half-red, half-black seeds. 

Chemical studies of Rhynch- 
osia are still preliminary and in- 
decisive. An alkaloid with cur- 
are-like activity has been 
reported from one species. 

Early pharmacological experi- 
ments with an extract of R. pha- 
seoloides produced a kind of 
semi-narcosis in frogs. 

In Oaxaca, Mexico, the Mazatec 
Indians cultivate Salvia divinor- 
um for the leaves, which are 
crushed on a metate, diluted in 
water, and drunk or chewed 
fresh for their hallucinogenic 
properties in divinatory rituals. 
The plant, known as Hierba de 
la Pastora (“herb of the shep- 
herdess”) or Hierba de la Virgen 
(“herb of the Virgin”), is culti- 
vated in plots hidden away in 
forests far from homes and 

Salvia divinorum is a peren- 
nial herb 3ft (1 m) tall or more, 
with ovate leaves up to 6 in, 

(1 5 cm) and finely dentate along 
the margin. The bluish flowers, 
borne in panicles up to 1 6 in, 

(41 cm) in length, are approxi- 
mately % in, (15mm) long. 

It has been suggested that the 
narcotic Pipiltzintzintli of the an- 
cient Aztecs was Salvia divinor- 
um, but at present the plant 
seems to be used only by the 
Mazatecs. The plant contains the 
potent compound salvinorin A. 

Over two centuries ago, Dutch 
explorers reported that the Hot- 
tentots of South Africa chewed 
the root of a plant known as 
Kanna or Channa as a vision-in- 
ducing hallucinogen. This com- 
mon name is today applied to 
several species of Sceletium 
that have alkaloids— mesembr- 
ine and mesembrenine — with 
sedative, cocainelike activities 
capable of inducing torpor. 

Sceletium expansum is a 
shrub up to 12 in. (30cm) tall with 
fleshy, smooth stems and pros- 
trate, spreading branches. The 
lanceolate-oblong entire, 
smooth, unequal leaves, mea- 
suring VA in. (4cm) long, Vs in. 

(1 cm) wide, are of a fresh green 
color and very glossy. Borne on 
solitary branches in groups of 
one to five, the white or dull yel- 
low flowers are 1 V2-2in. (4- 
5 cm) across. The fruit is angular. 

Both S. expansum and S. tor- 
tuosum were formerly Mesem- 

One of the most powerful herbs 
of the Tarahumara of Mexico is 
apparently a species of Scirpus. 
Tarahumara Indians fear to cul- 
tivate Bakana lest they become 
insane. Some medicine men 
carry Bakana to relieve pain. 

The tuberous underground part 
is believed to cure insanity, and 
the whole plant is a protector of 
those suffering from mental ills. 
The intoxication that it induces 
enables Indians to travel far and 
wide, talk with dead ancestors, 
and see brilliantly colored 

Alkaloids have been reported i 
from Scirpus as well as from the 
related genus Cyperus. 

The species of Scirpus may 
be annuals or perennials and 
are usually grasslike herbs with 
few- to many-flowered spikelets 
that are solitary or in terminal 
clusters. The fruit is a three- 
angled akene with or without a 
beak. They grow in many habi- 
tats but seem to prefer wet soil 
or bogs. 


SCOPOLIA (3-5) SIDAL. (200) 

Jaoq. Corr. Link 

Scopolia carniolica Jacques Sida acuta Burm. 

Scopolia Axocatzfn 


(Nightshade Family) Malvaceae (Mallow Family) 

Alps, Carpathian Mountains, Warm zones of both hemi- 

85 Caucasus Mountains, 86 spheres 

Lithuania, Latvia, and 

This herbaceous annual often These two species are herbs or 
grows 1— 3ft (3Q-80cm). The shrubs often up to 9ft (2.7m) in 

dull green leaves are longish, height, found in hot lowlands, 

pointed, and slightly pileous. The stiff branches are employed 
The fleshy root is tapered. The in making rough brooms. The 
small, bell-shaped flowers are leaves, lanceolate to obovoid 
violet to light yellow and hang and measuring about 1 in. 
down individually from the ra- (2.5 cm) wide and up to 4 in. 
chis and look similar to the flow- (1 0 cm) long, are beaten in 
ers of henbane (Hyoscyamus water to produce a soothing 
albus). It flowers April to June. lather for making skin tender. 

The fruit develops a capsule The flowers vary from yellow to 

with doubled dividing wall and white, 
many small seeds. Sida acuta and S, rhombifolia 

In Slovenia, Scopolia was are said to be smoked as a sti- 

possibly used for the prepara- mulant and substitute for Mari- 

tion of witches’ salves. In East juana along the Gulf coastal re- 
Prussia, the root was used as a gions of Mexico. Ephedrine is 
native narcotic, beer additive, found in the roots of these spe- 
and aphrodisiac. Women alleg- cies of Sida. The dried herb 
edly used it to seduce young smells distinctly like coumarine. 
men into being willing lovers. 

The whole plant contains 
coumarins (scopoline, scopole- 
tine) as well as hallucinogenic 
alkaloids (hyoscyamine, 
scopolamine) and chlorogenic 
acid. Today the plant is grown for 
the industrial harvest of 
L-hyoscyamine and atropine. 



Solandra grandiflora Sw. 
Chalice Vine 
(Nightshade Family) 

Tropical zones of South 
87 America, Mexico 

Sophora secunditlora (Ort.) Lag. ex 

Mescal Bean 

Leguminosae (Pea Family) 
Southwestern North 
88 America, Mexico 

A luxuriant climbing bush with 
showy flowers resembling those 
of Brugmansia, Solandra is va- 
lued for its hallucinogenic pur- 
poses in Mexico. A tea made 
from the juice of the branches of 
S. brevicalyx and of S. guerrer- 
ensis is known to have strong 
intoxicant properties. Mentioned 
by Hernandez as Tecomaxochitl 
or Hueipatl of the Aztecs, 

S. guerrerensis is used as an in- 
toxicant in Guerrero. 

These two species of Solan- 
dra are showy, erect, or rather 
scandent shrubs with thick ellip- 
tic leaves up to about 7 in. 
(18cm) in length and with large, 
cream-colored or yellow, fra- 
grant, funnel-form flowers, up to 
10 in. (25 cm) in length and 
opening wide at maturity. 

The genus Solandra, as 
would be expected in view of its 
close relationship to Datura, 
contains tropane alkaloids: 
hyoscyamine, scopolamine, 
nortropine, tropine, cuscohy- 
grine, and other bases have 
been reported. 

The beautiful red beans of this 
shrub were once used as a hal- 
lucinogen in North America. 

Sophora secunditlora seeds 
contain the highly toxic alkaloid 
cytisine, belonging pharmacolo- 
gically to the same group as ni- 
cotine. It causes nausea, con- 
vulsions, and eventually, in high 
doses, death through respira- 
tory failure. Truly hallucinogenic 
activity is unknown for cytisine, 
but it is probable that the power- 
ful intoxication causes, through 
a kind of delirium, conditions 
that can induce a visionary 

Sophora secunditlora is a 
shrub or small tree up to 35ft 
(10.5 m) in height. The ever- 
green leaves have 7 to 1 1 glossy 
leaflets. The fragrant, violet-blue 
flowers, borne in drooping ra- 
cemes about 4 in. (1 0 cm) long, 
measure up to 114 in. (3cm) in 
length. The hard, woody pod, 
constricted between each seed, 
bears two to eight bright red 



Tabernaemontana spp. 


Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family) 
Tropical zones of both 
89 hemispheres 

Most species of Tabernaemon- 
tana are bushy shrubs, climbers, 
or small trees. The leaves are 
evergreen, lanceolate, often 
with a leathery top side. The 
flowers consist of five pointed 
petals that mostly grow in clus- 
ters out of the calyx. The two 
symmetrical fruits are divided 
and marked with fairly visible 
veins. Because of this, they are 
easily confused with the testes 
of a mammal. 

In the Amazon, the Sanango 
(' Tabernaemontana sananho R. 
et P.) is considered a panacea. 
The leaves, roots, and the latex- 
rich bark are used in folk medi- 
cine. The tree grows as tall as 
15 ft (5 m). The leaves are used 
as a psychoactive additive to 
Ayahuasca. It is used in combi- 
nation with Virola in the produc- 
tion of an orally effective halluci- 
nogen. In the Amazon, Sanango 
is also considered a “memory 
plant.” Ayahuasca is enhanced 
with it in order that the visions 
can be better recalled. 

Phytochemical research has 
recently been done on the 
genus. Indole alkaloids are the 
primary constituent, in some 
even ibogaine and voacangine 
have been ascertained. For this 
reason, this species is of parti- 
cular interest for the discovery 
of new psychoactive plants. A 
few of the species ( Tabernae - 
montana coffeoides Bojer ex 
DC., Tabernaemontana crassa 
Benth.) have already revealed 
psychoactive properties and 

TABERNANTHE Bail!. (2-7) 

Tabernanthe iboga Baill. 


Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family) 
Tropical zones of western 

90 Africa 

Tabernanthe iboga is a shrub 3- 
4Vz ft (1-1 .5 m) tall, found in the 
undergrowth of tropical forests 
but often cultivated in native 
dooryards. The shrub has co- 
pious white, vile-smelling latex. 
The ovate leaves, usually 3V4- 
4 in, (9-1 0 cm) long, about 
1 'A in. (3 cm) wide (but occa- 
sionally up to 8 V 2 by 2 % in. or 22 
by 7 cm), are yellowish green 
beneath. The tiny yellowish, 
pinkish, or white- and pink- 
spotted flowers, which grow in 
groups of 5 to 12, have a cra- 
teriform corolla (a long, slender 
tube abruptly flaring at the 
mouth) with twisted lobes 'A in. 

(1 cm) long, The ovoid, pointed 
yellow-orange fruits occur in 
pairs and become as large as 

Chemical studies on Taber- 
nanthe iboga have shown at 
least a dozen indole alkaloids, 
the most active being ibogaine, 
the effects of which, in toxic 
doses, lead to extraordinary 
visions; an overdose, to paraly- 
sis and death. 

TAGETESL. (50) | 

Tagetes lucida Cav. 


Compositae (Sunflower Family) 

Warm zones of the Americas 
9 1 mostly Mexico 

The Huichol of Mexico induce 
visions by smoking a mixture of 
Nicotiana rustica and Tagetes 
lucida. They frequently drink a 
fermented beer from maize 
along with the smoking in order 
“to produce clearer visions.” 
Tagetes lucida is occasionally 
smoked alone. 

Tagetes lucida is a strongly 
scented perennial herb up to 
1 Vi ft (46 cm) tall. The opposite, 
leaves are ovate-lanceolate, 
toothed, and punctated with oil 
glands. The flowering heads are 
produced in dense terminal 
clusters Vi in. (1 cm) in diameter, 
usually yellow to yellow-orange. 
This species is native to Mexico, 
where it is very abundant in the 
states of Nayarit and Jalisco. No 
alkaloids have been isolated 
from Tagetes, but the genus is 
rich in essential oils and thio- 
phene derivatives; /-inositol, 
saponines, tannins, coumarine 
derivatives, and cyanogenic gly- 
cosides have been reported. 





Tanaecium nocturnum (Barb.-Rodr.) 
3ur. et K. Schum. 


Tetrapteris methystica R. E. Schult. 

Trichocereus pachanoi 
Britt, et Rose 
San Pedro Cactus 

Bignoniaceae (Bignonia Family) 
Tropical zones of Central 
92 America and South America, 
West Indies 

Malpighiaceae (Malpighia Family) 
Tropical zones of South 
93 America, Mexico, 

West Indies 

Cactaceae (Cactus Family) 

Temperate and warm zones 
94 of South America 

■■ 1 

Tanaecium nocturnum is a 
much-branched climber with 
broadly elliptic leaves 5Vh in. 
(13.5cm) long, 4 in. (10cm) 
wide. The white flowers, 6V2 in. 
(16.5cm) long, are tubular, 
borne in five- to eight-flowered 
racemes 3in. (8cm) long, aris- 
ing from the stem. The stem, 
when cut, emits an odor of al- 
mond oil. 

The Paumari, who live on the 
Rio Purus, create a ritual snuff 
that they call koribo-nafuni out of 
the leaves. The shamans sniff it 
when they are dealing with diffi- 
cult cases — for example, in or- 
der to extract a magical object 
out of the body of the sick per- 
son. They also sniff it during a 
ritual for protection of children, 
during which they fall into a 
trance. The snuff is used only by 
the men. This species is said to 
be prized as an aphrodisiac by 
Indians of the Colombian 

Saponines and tannins have 
been found in Tanaecium. The 
leaves contain prussic acid and 
cyanoglycosides, which disinte- 
grate when roasted. 

It is uncertain as to whether 
the toxin’s waste products con- 
tribute to the psychoactive effect 
of T. nocturnum. It is not yet 
known if there are other active 
compounds in the leaves or 
other parts of the plant. It is 
possible that this plant contains 
substances of unknown chemi- 
cal structure and pharmacologi- 
cal effect. 

The nomadic Maku Indians of 
the RioTikie in the northwestern 
most Amazonas of Brazil pre- 
pare a hallucinogenic drink, a 
sort of Ayahuasca or Caapi, 
from the bark of Tetrapteris 
methystica. Reports of the ef- 
fects of the drug would suggest 
that p-carboline alkaloids are 

Tetrapteris methystica (T. mu- 
cronata) is a scandent bush with 
black bark. The leaves are char- 
aceous, ovate, 2'/4-3 3 /e in. (6- 
8.5cm) long, 1 —2 in. (2.5-5cm) 
wide, bright green above, ashy 
green beneath. The inflores- 
cence is few-flowered, shorter 
than the leaves. The sepals are 
thick, hairy without, ovate-lan- 
ceolate, with eight black oval- 
shaped glands; the petals, 
spreading, membranaceous, 
yellow with red or brown in the 
center, elongate-orbicular, V2 in. 
(1 cm) long, 'As in. (2mm) wide. 
The fruit, or samara, is ovoid, Vs 
by Vs by 'As in. (4 by 4 by 2 mm), 
with brownish wings about V2 by 
Vi6 in. (10 by 2mm). 

This cactus is a branched, often 
spineless, columnar plant 9- 
20ft (2.75-6m) in height. The 
branches, which have 6 to 8 ribs, 
are glaucous when young, dark 
green in age. The pointed buds 
open at night to produce very 
large, 7y2-9V4 in. (19-24cm), 
funnel-shaped, fragrant flowers 
with the inner segments white, 
the outer segments brownish 
red, and long, greenish stamen 
filaments. The fruit, as well as 
the scales on the floral tube, 
have long black hairs. 

Trichocereus pachanoi is rich 
in mescaline: 2% of the dried 
material or 0.12% of the fresh 
material. Other alkaloids have 
been reported from the plant: 
mine, 3-methoxy-tyramine, and 
traces of other bases. 

Trichocereus pachanoi (Echi- 
nopsis pachanoi) occurs in the 
central Andes between 6,000 
and 9,000ft (1,830-2, 750m), 
particularly in Ecuador and 
northern Peru. 


( 10 - 20 ) 

The Voacanga genus has re- 
ceived little research. The spe- 
cies are similar to one another. 
They are multiple-branched, 
evergreen shrubs or small trees. 
The flowers are mostly yellow or 
white with five united petals. 
There are two symmetrical 
fruits. Latex runs in the bark. 

The bark and seeds of the 
African Voacanga africana 
Stapf. contain up to 10% indole 
alkaloids of the iboga type (voa- 
camine is the primary alkaloid, 
ibogaine) and should be simu- 
lating and hallucinogenic. In 
West Africa the bark is used as a 
hunting poison, stimulant, and 
potent aphrodisiac. Supposedly 
the seeds are used by African 
magicians in order to produce 

The seeds of the Voacanga 
grandiflora (Miq.) Rolfe are used 
by magicians in West Africa for 
visionary purposes. Unfortu- 
nately the details are not yet un- 
covered, as the knowledge of 
the magicians is a closely 
guarded secret, 

Classification of genera in 
the Morning Glory family or 
Convolvulaceae has always 
been difficult. This species has 
at one time or another been 
assigned to the genera Convol- 
vulus, Ipomoea, Legendrea, 
Rivea, and Turbina. Most che- 
mical and ethnobotanical stu- 
dies have been reported under 
the name Rivea corymbosa, 
but recent critical evaluation in- 
dicates that the most appropri- 
ate binomial is Turbina 

Most, if not all, species of Virola 
have a copious red “resin” in the 
inner bark. The resin from a 
number of species is prepared 
as a hallucinogenic snuff or 
small pellets. 

Probably the most important 
species is Virola theiodora, a 
slender tree 25-75 ft (7.5-23 m) 
in height, native to the forests of 
the western Amazon basin. The 
cylindrical trunk, IV 2 ft (46 cm) in 
diameter, has a characteristic 
smooth bark that is brown 
mottled with gray patches. The 
leaves (with a tea-like fragrance 
when dried) are oblong or 
broadly ovate, 3 V 2 — 1 3 in. (9- 
33 cm) long, 1 Vfe— 4Vfe in. (4- 
1 1 cm) wide. The male inflores- 
cences are many-flowered, 
usually brown- or gold-hairy, 
shorter than the leaves; the very 
small flowers, borne singly or in 
clusters of 2 to 1 0, are strongly 
pungent. The fruit is subglobose, 
%-% in, (1-2 cm) by 'A-Va in. (.5- 
1 .5 cm); the seed is covered for 
half its length by a membranac- 
eous, orange-red aril. 

The resin of the Virola con- 
tains DMT and 5-MeO-DMT. 




Turbina corymbosa (L.) Raf 
(Morning Glory Family) 

Tropical zones of the 
95 Americas, mostly Mexico 
and Cuba 

Virola theiodora (Spr.) Warb. 

Myristicaceae (Nutmeg Family) 
Tropical zones of Central 
96 America and South America 

Voacanga spp. 


Apocynaceae (Dogbane Family) 
Tropical Africa 


The seeds of Turbina corymbo- 
sa, better known as Rivea cor- 
ymbosa, are valued as one of 
the major sacred hallucinogens 
of numerous Indian groups in 
southern Mexico. Their use 
goes back to early periods. 
Known as Ololiuqui, they were 
important in Aztec ceremonies 
as an intoxicant with reputedly 
analgesic properties. 

Turbina corymbosa is a large 
woody vine with heart-shaped 
leaves 2-3Vfe in. (5-9 cm) long 
and 1-1% in. (2 .5-4.5 cm) wide. 
The cymes are many-flowered. 
The bell-shaped corollas, %- 
1 V2 in. (2-4 cm) long, are white 
with greenish stripes. The fruit is 
dry, indehiscent, ellipsoidal with 
persistent, enlarged sepals, and 
bears a single hard, roundish, 
brown, minutely hairy seed 
about Ve in. (3mm) in diameter. 
The seeds contain lysergic acid 
amide, analogous to LSD. 







Page 61: The Fly Agaric is used for shamanic purposes worldwide. It has 
even been linked to the ancient Indian Soma. 

Notwithstanding the recent upsurge in the use of 
psychoactive plants in modern Western societies, 
the thrust of this book emphasizes almost exclu- 
sively the employment of hallucinogens among 
aboriginal peoples who have restricted the use of 
these plants mostly to magic, medical, or religious 
purposes. The outstanding difference between the 
use of hallucinogens in our culture and their use in 
preindustrial societies is precisely the difference in 
the belief concerning their purpose and origin: all 
aboriginal societies have considered — and still 
do — that these plants are the gifts of the gods, if 
not the gods themselves. It is obvious that our cul- 
ture does not view hallucinogenic plants in this 

There are many examples — and more will be 
discussed in the following pages— of plants that 
are sacred and even revered as gods. Soma, the an- 
cient god-narcotic of India, may be the most out- 
standing example. Most hallucinogens are holy 
mediators between man and the supernatural, but 
Soma was deified. So holy was Soma that it has 

been suggested that even the idea of deity may 
have arisen from experiences with its unearthly 
effects. The sacred Mexican mushrooms have a 
long history that is closely linked to shamanism 
and religion. The Aztecs called them Teonanacatl 
(“divine flesh”), and they were ceremonially in- 
gested. Highland Maya cultures in Guatemala 
apparently had, more than three thousand years 
ago, a sophisticated religion utilizing mushrooms. 
Probably the most famous sacred hallucinogen of 
the New World, however, is Peyote, which, 
among the Huichol of Mexico, is identified with 
the deer (their sacred animal) and maize (their 
sacred vegetal staff of life). The first Peyote- 
collecting expedition was led by Tatewari, the 
original shaman, and subsequent annual trips to 
collect the plant are holy pilgrimages to Wirikuta, 
original paradisiacal home of the ancestors. In 

South America, Ayahuasca reveals the real world, 
while daily living is an illusion. Ayahuasca means 
“tendril of the soul” in Kechwa and comes from 
the frequent experience that the soul separates 
from the body during the intoxication, commun- 
ing with the ancestors and forces of the spirit 
world. The drinking of Caapi is a return “to the 
maternal womb, to the source and origin of all 
things,” and participants see “all the tribal divi- 
nities, the creation of the universe, the first human 
beings and animals and even the establishment of 
the social order” (Reichel-Dolmatoff). 

It is not always the shaman or medicine man 
who administers these sacred plants. The general 
population — usually the adult male portion — 
often shares in the use of hallucinogens. Under 


Above: The symbols in Huichol mythology are vividly depicted in their popular 
sacred art. The beauty of the forms has as a basis the ceremonial use of 
Peyote. The yarn painting above, like an Aztec Codex, is a chronicle of the 
creation of the world. The gods emerged from the Underworld to Mother 
Earth. This was possible because Kauyumari, Our Elder Brother Deer, found 
the nierika, or portway. The nierika of Kauyumari (top center) unifies the spirit 
of all things and all worlds. Through it all life came into being. 

Below Kauyumari’s nierika, Our Mother Eagle (center) lowers her head to 
listen to Kauyumari, who sits on a rock, bottom right. His sacred words travel 
down a thread to a prayer bowl and are transformed into life energy, depicted 
as a white blossom. 

Above Kauyumari, the Spirit of Rain, a serpent, gives life to the gods. Tatewari, 
first shaman and Spirit of Fire (top center right), is bending down toward Kauyu- 
mari listening to his chant. Both are connected to a medicine basket (center 
right), which binds them together as shamanic allies. Our Father Sun, seen op- 

posite Tatewari on the left, is connected with the Spirit of Dawn, the orange figure 
below. The Sun and Spirit of Dawn are both found in Wirikuta, the Sacred Land of 
Peyote. Also in Wirikuta is Kauyumari’s nierika and the temple of Elder Brother 
Deer Tail. The temple is the black field, lower center. Deer Tail, with redantlers, is 
seen with his human manifestation above him. Behind Deer Tail is Our Mother 
the Sea. A crane brings her a prayer gourd containing the words of Kauyumari. 
Blue Deer (left center) enlivens all sacred offerings. A stream of energy goes from 
him toour Mother Sea’s prayer gourd; he also offers his blood to the growing corn, 
the staff of life germinating below him, Above Blue Deer is the First Man, who 
invented cultivation. First Man faces a sacrificed sheep. 

Page 62: This early-sixteenth-century Aztec statue of Xochipilli, the ecstatic 
Prince of Flowers, was unearthed in Tlamanalco on the slopes of the volcano 
Popocatepetl. The stylized glyphs depict various hallucinogenic plants. From 
left to right, the glyphs represent: mushroom cap; tendril of the Morning Glory; 
flower of Tobacco; flower of the sacred Morning Glory: bud of Sinicuiche; and. 
on the pedestal, stylized caps of Psilocybe aztecorum. 


these circumstances, however, use is often strictly 
controlled by taboos or ceremonial circumscrip- 
tions. In almost all instances, in both the Old and 
the New World, the use of hallucinogenic drugs is 
restricted to adult males. There are, however, 
striking exceptions. Among the Koryak of Siberia, 
Amanita may be used by both sexes. In southern 
Mexico, the sacred mushrooms can be taken by 
both men and women; in fact, the shaman is usual- 
ly a woman. Similarly, in the Old World, Iboga 
may be taken by any adult, male or female. While 
purely speculative, there may be a basic reason for 
the exclusion of women from ingesting narcotic 
preparations. Many hallucinogens are possibly 
sufficiently toxic to have abortifacient effects. 
Since women in aboriginal societies are frequently 
pregnant during most of their childbearing years, 
the fundamental reason may be purely an insur- 

“Whether shaman alone, 
or shaman and communicants, 
or communicants alone 
imbibe or ingest Ilex drinks, 

Datura infusions, Tobacco, . . . 

Peyote cactus, Ololiuqui seeds, mushrooms, 
narcotic Mint leaves or Ayahuasca 
. . . the ethnographic principle is the same. 
These plants contain spirit power.” 

— Weston La Barre 

ance against abortions — even though this reason 
has been forgotten. 

Sometimes hallucinogens are administered to 
children. Among the Jfvaro, Brugmansia may be 
given to boys, who are then admonished by the 
ancestors during the intoxication. Frequently, 
the first use of a hallucinogen occurs in puberty 

There is hardly an aboriginal culture without at 
least one psychoactive plant: even Tobacco and 
Coca may, in large doses, be employed for the in- 
duction of visions. An example is the smoking of 
Tobacco among the Warao of Venezuela, who use 
it to induce a trancelike state accompanied by 
what, for all practical purposes, are visions. 

Although the New World has many more spe- 
cies of plants purposefully employed as hallucino- 
gens than does the Old World, both hemispheres 
have very limited areas where at least one halluci- 
nogen is not known or used. So far as we know, 
the Inuit have only one psychoactive plant; the 
Polynesian Islanders of the Pacific had Kava-kava 
( Piper methysticum), but they seem never to have 
had a true hallucinogen in use: Kava-kava is 
classed as a hypnotic. 

Africa has been poorly studied from the point 
of view of drug plants, and may have hallucino- 
genic species that have not yet been introduced 
to the scientific world. It is, however, possible to 
assert that there are few parts of the continent 
where at least one such plant is not now utilized 
or was not employed at some time in the past. 

Asia, a vast continent, has produced relatively 
few major hallucinogenic varieties but their use 
has been widespread and extremely significant 
from a cultural point of view; furthermore, the 
use of them is extremely ancient. Numerous 
sources describe the use of hallucinogenic and 
other intoxicating plants in ancient Europe. Many 
researchers see the roots of culture, shamanism, 
and religion in the use of psychoactive or halluci- 
nogenic plants. 



Two points stand out in clear relief in 
this tabular summary of material set 
forth in greater detail in other sections 
of the book. It is obvious that: (1) the 
sources of information are interdisci- 
plinary in nature; and (2) there is urgent 
need for deeper studies in view of the 
sparsity or vagueness of knowledge in 
so many cases. 

That progress in future studies will be 
made only when they are based on inte- 
gration of data, from sundry fields — 
anthropology, botany, chemistry, history, 



Ww-SiY- ' < A-.- - • • >•;. 


•two uttmot or travel on the amaxo* and 
ir» i k i in i a « if s THE T«OMHf.T.\S. mo NKf.KO, 
VAVrf*. LAWOl'lAm, fACIStONl. MtAUAf-A. 

AND M*Ta*\ « AS ALSO VO Till. CVT/LR- 

acts fur. ok i nolo, along t nr. 
EASTKEN »iOic or TMr. Andes or 
f*H«- .\,NO ECUADOR. and THE 

shore* or riir. r,snir r< 







, -.n. . ' 

• f .• ' < • -• .. . - A’ .t% -l 



v.;.' '' <■:’ ' ^ '"'.b V 

SEVEN M.\p> 


Uy : •; „ : . 


1 ililjR 


» 90* 

<m fkS - ;v 

medicine, mythology, pharmacology, 
philology, religion, and so on — should 
be obvious. And wise handling of such a 
wealth of information calls for patience 
and breadth of understanding. One of 
the first steps in this direction must be 
presentation of such diverse material in 
easily assimilated outline form — an end 
that we have tried to accomplish in this 

It is man living in so-called archaic so- 

cieties and intimately familiar with his 
ambient vegetation who has discovered 
the hallucinogens and bent them to his 
use. The relentless march of civilization 
is ever increasing in speed and intensity, 
reaching even the most remote and hid- 
den peoples. Acculturation inevitably 
spells the doom of native lore and leads 
to the disappearance of knowledge built 
up through the ages. It is, therefore, 
urgent that we step up the tempo of 
research before this knowledge will for- 
ever be entombed with the culture that 
gave it birth. 

Accurate botanical identification of 
the source plant is basic to a sound un- 
derstanding of hallucinogens. We do not 
always have this knowledge. Ideally, 
botanical determination of a product 
should be made on the basis of a voucher 
specimen: only in this way can exactness 
be ensured. It is sometimes necessary to 
base an identification on a common 
name or on a description, in which case 
there always may exist some doubt as to 
its accuracy. It is equally essential that 
chemical investigations be founded 
upon properly vouchered material. Bril- 
liant phytochemical work too often is 
worthless simply because grave doubts 
about the identity of the original vegetal 
material cannot be dispelled. 

Similar deficiencies in other aspects 
of our knowledge of hallucinogens and 
their use hamper our understanding. 
The full cultural significance of mind- 
altering plants may not be appreciated. 
It is only in very recent years that an- 
thropologists have begun to compre- 
hend the deep and all-encompassing 
role that hallucinogens play in the his- 
tory, mythology, and philosophy of 
aboriginal societies. In time as this un- 
derstanding is appreciated, anthropol- 
ogy will advance in its explanation of 
many basic elements of human culture. 

The material presented in this book is 
of necessity concentrated in detail. It 
may also at times be diffuse. Realizing 
the desirability occasionally of having a 
quick means of consultation, we have 
striven to assemble the essential facts 
and present them in skeletal form in this 
Overview of Plant Use. 

Key symbols designating plant types in 
Overview of Plants Use 











Left: The English botanist Richard 
Spruce spent fourteen years in field 
research in South America during the 
1800’s. An insatiable plant-explorer, he 
might be called the prototype of ethno- 
botanists of tropical America. His 
studies laid the foundation of research 
on the hallucinogens Yopo and Caapi — 
research still in progress. 

Page 64: The Sinu culture of Colombia 
(from 1200 to 1600) has yielded many 
enigmatic gold pectorals with mush- 
roomlike representations. They may 
imply the existence of a cult using these 
intoxicating fungi, species of which 
occur in the area. Many of the pectorals 
have winglike structures, possibly 
signifying magic flight, a frequent char- 
acteristic of hallucinogenic intoxication. 






Gaibulimima belgraveana (F. Muell.) Sprague 

Natives in Papua 



Angel’s Trumpets 








(see also pages 140-143) 

Brugmansia arborea (L.) Lagerh.; 

B. aurea Lagerh.; B. x insignis (Barb.-Rodr.) 
Lockwood ex R. E. Schult.; 

B. sanguinea (R. et P.) Don; 

B. suaveotens (H. et B. ex Willd.) 

Bercht. et Presl.; 

B. vers/co/orLagerh.; 

B. vulcanicola (A. S. Barclay) R. E. Schult. 

Brugmansia are employed in the warmer parts of South 
America, especially in the western Amazon, under the 
name of Toe. 

Also used by the Mapuche Indians of Chile, the Chib- 
cha of Colombia, and known to Peruvian Indians as 




(see also pages 124-139) 

Banisteriopsis caapi ( Spruce exGriseb.) Morton; 
B. inebrians Morton; B. rusbyana (Ndz.) Morton; 
Diplopterys cabrerana (Cuatr.) B. Gates 

Used in the western half of the Amazon Valley and by 
isolated tribes on the Pacific slopes of the Colombian 
and Ecuadorean Andes. 


Badoh Negro 



(see also pages 1 70-1 75) 

Ipomoea violacea L. 

Oaxaca, southern Mexico. 

Known to the Aztecs as Tlililtzin and employed in 
the same way as Ololiuqui, Ipomoea is called Piule by 
the Chinantec and Mazatec, and Badoh Negro by the 





Coryphantha compacta (Engelm.) 
Britt, et Rose; C. spp. 

The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico consider C. com- 
pacta (Wichuri, also referred to as Bakana or Bakana- 
wa) a kind of Peyote or Hikuli (see Peyote). 



Scirpus sp. 

A species of Scirpus is apparently one of the most 
powerful herbs of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. 

The Indians fear the plant because of possible 


Blue Water Lily 


Nymphaea ampla (Solisb.) DC.; 
N. caerulea Sav. 


Caapi (see Ayahuasca) 

Tetrapteris methystica R, E. Schul.; 
T. mucronata Cav. 

Water Lilies enjoyed an exceptionally prominent place in 
the mythology and art of Minoan and dynastic Egyptian 
cultures, in India and China, as well as in the Mayan 
world from the Middle Classical period until the inception 
of the Mexican period. 

Among Old and New World similarities is the relation 
of N. ampia to the toad, itself associated with hallucino- 
genic agents, and the relation of the plant to death. 

Caapi-Pinima is employed by the nomadic Maku Indians 
of the Rio Tikie in the northwestern Amazon of Brazil. 
They call it Caapi, the same as Banisteriopsis. Several 
writers have mentioned “more than one kind’’ of Caapi in 
the Rio Vaupes area of Brazil and adjacent Colombia. 




Pachycereus pecten-aboriginum (Engelm.) 
Britt, et Rose 

Employed by the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, Wicho- 
waka means “insanity" in the local language. 






(see also pages 116-119) 

Anadenanthera colubrina (Veil.) Brenan; 

A. colubrina (Veil.) Brenan var. 
Ceb//(Griseb.) Altschul; 

A. peregrina (L.) Speg.; 

A. peregrina (L.) Speg. var. falcata (Benth.) 

A. peregrina is used today by tribes of the Orinoco basin 
(Yopo) and was first reported in 1946. No longer used in 
the West Indies. 

Indians of Argentina (Villca or Huilca) and southern 
Peru (Cebfl) are believed to have employed A. colubrina 
in precolonial times. 





Oncidium cebolleta (Jacq.) Sw. 

It is suspected that the Tarahumara of Mexico make use 
of this orchid. 


Chacruna Bush 

Psychotria viridis Ruiz et Pavon 

Used for ages in the Amazon region as a significant in- 
gredient of Ayahuasca. 






Hallucinogenic intoxication 

The bark and leaves of this tree are boiled with a spe- 
cies of Homalomena to prepare a tea. 

Although 28 alkaloids have been isolated, a psychoac- 
tive principle has not yet been found. 

Visions of men and animals to be killed are experi- 

The Indians of Sibundoy use Brugmansia for magico- 
rnedicinal purposes, the Mapuche as medicine for 
recalcitrant children. 

The Chibcha formerly gave fermented Chicha with 
Brugmansia seeds to wives and slaves of dead chief- 
tains to induce a stupor before they were buried alive 
with their husbands or masters. 

Indians in Peru still believe that Brugmansia permits 
them to communicate with ancestors and that it can 
reveal treasures preserved in graves. 

The drug is usually taken in the form of powdered 
seeds added to fermented drinks, or as a tea made of 
the leaves. 

All species of Brugmansia are chemically similar, with 
scopolamine as their principal psychoactive constitu- 
ent. Content of lesser alkaloids is also similar. 

A dangerous hallucinogen, Brugmansia brings on an 
intoxication often so violent that physical restraint is 
necessary before the onset of a deep stupor, during 
which visions are experienced. 

Usually drunk in religious ceremonies. 

In the famous Tukanoan Yuruparf ceremony in Co- 
lombia — an adolescent initiation ritual for boys. The 
Jfvaro believe that Ayahuasca makes possible com- 
munication with ancestors and that, under its influ- 
ence, a man’s soul may leave the body and wander 

The bark, prepared in cold or boiling water, may be 
taken alone or with additives — especially the leaves of 
B. rusbyana (Diptopterys cabrerana) and of Psychotria 
viridis — which alter the effects. 

The bark can also be chewed. Recent evidence from 
the northwestern Amazon suggests that the plants are 
also used in the form of a snuff. 

The hallucinogenic activity is primarily due to harmine, 
the major [3-carboline alkaloid in the plants. 

Effects of taking the bitter and nauseating drink 
range from pleasant intoxication with no hangover to 
violent reactions with sickening aftereffects. Usually, 
visual hallucinations in color occur. The intoxication 
ends with a deep sleep and dreams. 

n southern Mexico, this vine is respected as one of 
the principal hallucinogens for use in divination, 
magico-religious, and curing rituals. 

A drink is prepared from about a thimbleful of the 
crushed seeds. 

The alkaloid content is five times that of Turbina 
corymbosa; accordingly natives use fewer seeds. The 
same alkaloids are found in other Morning Glories but 
usage is restricted to Mexico. (See Ololiuqui.) 

Medicinal purposes. 

Taken by shamans as a potent medicine and greatly 
feared and respected by the Indians. 

The aboveground Teuile ("meat” of the cactus) is eaten 
fresh or dried. Eight to twelve cactus “tops” are an 
adequate dose. 

Various alkaloids, including phenylethylamines, have 
been isolated from Coryphantha, a promising genus for 
future studies. 

Scirpus plays an important role in folk medicine 
and as a hallucinogen; it must be treated with great 

The tuberous roots of Scirpus are often collected from 
faraway places. 

Alkaloids have been reported from Scirpus and related 
sedges. The Indians believe that they can travel to dis- 
tant places, talk with their ancestors, and have colored 

There exist numerous interesting parallels between 
the ritualistic (shamanic) significance of Nymphaea in 
the Old and the New Worlds, suggesting that Nym- 
phaea may have been used as a narcotic, possibly a 

N. amp/a has recently been reported to be used in 
Mexico as a recreational drug with “powerful halluci- 
natory effects.” 

Dried flowers and buds of Nymphaea amp/a are 
smoked. The rhizomes are eaten raw or cooked. The 
buds of N. caerula are used to make a tea. 

The alkaloids apomorphine, nuciferine, and nornuci- 
ferine, isolated from the rhizomes of N. ampla, may be 
responsible for the psychotropic activity. 

Hallucinogenic intoxication. 

A drink is prepared from the bark of T. melhystica in 
cold water. The infusion is yellowish, unlike the brown- 
ish color of the beverage prepared from Banisteriopsis. 

It has not been possible as yet to carry out chemical 
examination of T. methystica, but reports of the effects 
of the drug would suggest that the same or similar 
|3-carboline alkaloids are present as in Banisteriopsis. 

There are several purely medicinal uses of this 

A hallucinogenic drink is prepared from the juice of the 
young branches of P. pecten-aboriginum. 

4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenylethylamine and fourtetra- 
hydroisoquinoline alkaloids have been isolated. 

It causes dizziness and visual hallucinations. 

Now smoked as a hallucinogenic intoxicant by Indians 
n northern Argentina. 

The snuff is prepared from the beans, which are 
usually moistened, rolled into a paste, and dried by 

When pulverized to a gray-green powder, it is mixed 
with an alkaline plant ash or snail shell lime. 

Tryptamine derivatives and fj-carbolines. 

A twitching of the muscles, slight convulsions, and 
lack of muscular coordination followed by nausea, 
visual hallucinations, and disturbed sleep. Macropsia. 

Reportedly used as a hallucinogen, 0. cebolleta is 
employed as a temporary surrogate for Peyote. 


An alkaloid has been reported from 0. cebolleta. 

This bush has great cultural significance as a DMT- 
oroviding ingredient of the hallucinogen Ayahuasca, 
which has a central place in the shamanic tradition of 
the Amazon. 

Fresh or dried leaves are mixed with vines or the husk 
of Banisteriopsis caapi and cooked. The preparation is 
drunk as Ayahuasca (Caapi, Yage). 

The leaves contain 0.1 % to 0.61 % N,N,-DMT, as well 
as traces of other alkaloids. 













Brunfelsia chiricaspi Plowman; 

B. grandiflora D. Don; 

B. grandiflora D. Don subsp. schultesii Plowman 

Brunfelsia is known as Borrachero (“the intoxicator”) to 
Colombian Indians, and as Chiricaspi (“cold tree”) in 
westernmost Amazonia (Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru). 





Erythrina americana Mill.; 

E. coralloides Mo c. et Sesse ex DC.; 
E. flabelliformis Kearney 

The beans of various species are frequently sold with 
those of Sophora secundiflora (Mescal Beans) in 
Mexico. They are used as amulets or charms. 


Common Reed 



Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trinius ex Steudel 

Used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. Psy- 
choactive use is a recent phenomenon. 





Panaeolus cyanescens Berk, et Br,; 
Copelandia cyanescens (Berk, et Br.) Singer 

Cultivated on cowand buffalo dung in Bali. 



Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC. 

India. Used in Ayurvedic medicine. The seeds are used 
worldwide as charms or amulets. 


Dama da Noite 
(Lady of the Night) 

Oestrum laevigatum Schlecht; Coastal regions of southern Brazil, southern Chile. 

Oestrum parqui L'Herit. 




(see also pages 1 06-1 1 1 ) 

Datura metel L, 

D. mefe/is mentioned as a hallucinogenic plant in early 
Sanskrit and Chinese writings. 

Known as a drug to the Arabian physician Avicenna in 
the eleventh century. 

Employed today especially in India, Pakistan, and Af- 

D. ferox, a related Old World species, plays a minor 


Deadly Nightshade 

(see also pages 86-91 ) 

Atropa belladonna L. 

Europe, Near East. 

Deadly Nightshade figured as an important ingredient in 
many of the witches’ brews of the Middle Ages. 

Atropa played a prominent role in the mythology of 
most European peoples. 


El Nene 
El Ahijado 
El Macho 


Coleus blumei Benth.; C. pumilus Blanco 

Native to the Philippine Islands, two species of this plant 
have acquired significance similar to Salvia in southern 
Mexico among the Mazatec Indians. 





(see also pages 1 76-1 81 ) 

1 * 

Virola calophylla Warb.; 

V. calophylloidea Markgr.; 

V. elongata (Spr. ex Benth.) Warb.; 
V. theiodora (Spr.) Warb. 

In Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Peru a number of 
species of Virola are used, the most important of which 
appears to be V. theiodora. 

The hallucinogenic snuff has various names depend- 
ing on the locality or tribe, with the most commonly re- 
cognized terms being Parica, Epena, and Nyakwana in 
Brazil, Yakee and Yato in Colombia. 



Homalomena sp. 

The natives of Papua are reported to use Homalomena. 


(see also pages 1 02-1 05) 

Claviceps purpurea (Fr.) Tulasne 

It has recently been convincingly argued that Ergot 
played a role in the Eleusinian mysteries of ancient 

When accidentally ground up with rye flour during the 
Middle Ages, Ergot (which grows primarily as a fungal 
disease on rye) poisoned whole districts with ergotism 
These mass poisonings became known as St. Antho- 
ny's fire. 






in Amazonian folk medicine, Brunfelsia plays a major 
magico-religious role. 

Used as an additive to the hallucinogenic drink Yaje 
(see Ayahuasca). 

The Kofan of Colombia and Ecuador and the Jivaro of 
Ecuador add Brunfelsia to Yaje, prepared basically 
from Banisteriopsis (see Ayahuasca). It heightens the 
hallucinogenic effects. 

Scopoletine has been found in Brunfelsia, but this 
compound is not known to be psychoactive. 

A sensation of chills follows ingestion, an effect that 
has given rise to the name Chiricaspi (“cold tree”). 

The plant may once have been used by the Tarahu- 
mara, who value the beans medicinally. 

The red beans are often mixed with the similar ones of 
Sophora secundiflora. 

Some species of Erythrina contain alkaloids of the er- 
ythran type, producing effects similar to those of curare 
or cytisine. 

Used today as a DMT-delivering agent for Ayahuasca 

Twenty to 50 g of roots are boiled with 3 g of seeds from 
Peganum harmala and the preparation is consumed as 
a drink. 

The roots contain the psychedelic or vision-inducing 
alkaloid N, N- DMT, 5-MEO-DMT, Bufotenin, and the 
toxin gramine. 

Used in native festivals in Bali and reportedly sold to 
foreign visitors as a hallucinogen. 

The mushrooms are eaten fresh or dried. 

Up to 1 .2% of psilocineand 0.6% of psilocybine have 
been found in C. cyanescens, which is the highest 
content of these alkaloids found in hallucinogenic 

Indian peoples may have utilized the psychoactive 

Mucuna is considered an aphrodisiac in India. 

Powdered seeds. Source of DMT for Ayahuasca 

Although Mucuna has not been reported as a halluci- 
nogen, it is rich in psychoactive alkaloids (such as 
DMT) capable of inducing behavioral changes equita- 
ble with hallucinogenic activity. 

The Mapuche of southern Chile smoke Palqui. 

The leaves are smoked as a substitute for Marijuana. 

The unripened fruit, leaves, and flowers contain sapo- 
nines that are not known to be hallucinogenic. 

Used as an aphrodisiac in the East Indies. 
Valuable drug. 

Ceremonial intoxication and recreation. 

Powdered seeds added to wine. 

The seeds are added to alcoholic drinks, to Canna- 
bis cigarettes or tobacco, and occasionally to the betel 
chew mixture. 


Witches' brews; the sabbat. 

Today, A. belladonna is an important source for 
medicinal drugs. 

The entire plant contains psychoactive constituents. 

The plant contains alkaloids, capable of inducing hal- 
lucinations. The main psychoactive constituent is 
hyoscyamine, but lesser amounts of scopolamine and 
trace amounts of minor tropane alkaloids are also 

Having magico-religious significance, Coleus is used 
as a divinatory plant. 

The leaves are chewed fresh or the plants are ground, 
then diluted with water for drinking. 

No hallucinogenic principle has yet been discovered in 
the 150 known Coleus species. 

Epena or Nyakwana may be snuffed ceremonially by 
all adult males, occasionally even without any ritual 
connection. The medicine men use the drug in diag- 
nosis and treatment of illnesses. 

The use of Yakee or Parica is restricted to shamans. 

Some Indians scrape the inner layer of the bark and dry 
the shavings over a fire. When pulverized, powdered 
leaves of Juslicia, the ashes of Amasita, the bark of 
Elizabeths princeps may be added. 

Other Indians fell the tree, collect the resin, boil it to a 
paste, sun-dry the paste, crush and sift it. Ashes of sev- 
eral barks and the leaf powder of Justicia may be added . 

A further method is to knead the inner shavings of 
freshly stripped bark and to squeeze out the resin and 
boil it to a paste, which is sun-dried and prepared into 
snuff with ashes added. 

A group of Maku Indians in the Colombian Vaupes 
ingest the unprepared resin as it is collected from the 

Tryptamine and |3-carboline alkaloids, 5-methoxydi- 
methyltryptamine and dimethyltryptamine (DMT), 
being the main constituents, are responsible for the 
hallucinogenic activity. Effects of the intoxication vary. 
They usually include initial excitability, setting in within 
several minutes from the first snuffing. Then follows 
numbness of the limbs, twitching of the facial muscles, 
inability to coordinate muscular activity, nausea, visual 
hallucinations, and finally, a deep, disturbed sleep. 

Plants are used in traditional medicine create 
hallucinogenic dreams. 

The leaves are eaten with the leaves and bark of Gal- 
bulimima belgraveana (see Agara). 

Little is known still of the constituents of this genus. 
Violent derangement is followed by slumber with 

It appears that Ergot has never been utilized pur- 
posefully as a hallucinogen in medieval Europe. 
Employed extensively as a medicine by midwives in 
cases of difficult childbirth during the Middle Ages, 
Ergot induced contractions of involuntary muscles 
and was a strong vasoconstrictor. 

Used for psychoactive purposes. Taken as a cold- 
water infusion. Dosage is difficult to determine and can 
be dangerous! 

Ergoline alkaloids, mainly derivatives of lysergic acid, 
are the pharmacologically active constituents of Ergot. 
Ergot alkaloids or derivatives of them are the basis of 
important medicines used today in obstetrics, internal 
medicine, and psychiatry. The most potent hallucino- 
gen, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), is a synthetic 
derivative of Ergot. 












Cymbopogon densiflorus Stapf 

Used by medicine men in Tanzania. 



Peucedanum japonicum Thunb. 



Fly Agaric 

(see also pages 82-85) 


Amanita muscaria (L. ex Fr.) Pers. 

Finno-Ugrian peoples in eastern and western Siberia. 
Several groups of Athabaskan peoples of North 
America. A. muscaria could very well be the mysterious 
god-narcotic Soma of ancient India, taken by the Aryans 
3,500 years ago. 





Kaempferia galanga L. 

There are vague reports that Galanga is employed as a 
hallucinogen in New Guinea. 




Cytisus canadensis (L.) O. Kuntze 

Although native to the Canary Islands, Genista was in- 
corporated in aboriginal American societies. 

Genista has apparently acquired an important role 
among the Yaqui Indians of Mexico. 





Lycoperdon marginatum Vitt. ; 
L. mixtecorum Heim 

In southern Mexico, the Mixtec of Oaxaca employ two 
species to induce a condition of half-sleep. There seems 
to be no ceremony connected with the use. 

1 n northern Mexico, among the Tarahumara of Chi- 
huahua, a species of Lycoperdon, known as Kalamota, 
is employed. 




(see also pages.86-91) 


Hyoscyamus nigerL:, H. aibus L. 

During the Middle Ages, Henbane was an ingredient qf 
the witches' brews and ointments. 

In ancient Greece and Rome, reports of “magic 
drinks” indicate that Henbane frequently served as an 
ingredient. It has been suggested that the priestesses c 
Delphi prophesied under the influence of Henbane. 


Hierba de la Pastora 
Hierba de la Virgen 


Salvia divinorum Epl. et Jativa-M. 

Used by the Mazatec Indians of Mexico as a substitute 
for psychoactive mushrooms, S. divinorum (“of the divi- 
ners”) is called “herb of the shepherdess.” It is commonly 
believed to be the narcotic Pipiltzintzintli of the Aztec 


Hikuli Mulato 
Hikuli Rosapara 


Epithelantha micromeris (Engelm.) 
Weber ex Britt, et Rose 

One of the “false Peyotes” of the Tarahumara Indians of 
Chihuahua and the Huichol of northern Mexico. 


Hikuli Suname 

Peyote Cimarron 

Ariocarpus fissuratus Schumann; 
A. retusus Scheidw. 

The Tarahumara Indians in northern and central Mexico 
assert that A. fissuratus is stronger than Peyote (Lo- 

Huichol Indians of Mexico. 



(see also pages 1 1 2-1 1 5) 

Tabernanthe iboga Baill. 

In Gabon and the Congo, the cult surrounding Iboga 
provides the natives with the strongest single force 
against the missionary spread of Christianity and Islam 
in this region. 






Mimosa hostilis (Mart.) Benth.; 

M. verrucosa Benth. = Mimosa tenuiflora 
(Willd.) Poir. 

Valued in eastern Brazil, where several tribes in Pernam- 
buco use the plant in ceremonials; also employed by var- 
ious now extinct tribes of the same area. 




Mesembryanthemum expansum L. ; 

M. tortuosum L. = Sceletium tortuosum (L.) 

N. E.Br. 

Over two centuries ago, Dutch explorers reported that 
the Hottentots of South Africa employed the root of a 
plant known as Channa or Kanna. 






Employed to cause dreams in order to foretell the fu- 

Smoking of the flowers, either alone or with tobacco. 

It is not known to which compound the alleged halluci- 
nogenic activity has to be attributed. 

Folk medicine. 

The root of Fang-K’uei is employed medicinally in 

Alkaloidal constituents have been reported from Peu- 
cedanum, but whether or not theyare of hallucinogenic 
types is not known. Coumarins and furocoumarinsare 
widespread in the genus; both occur in P japonicum. 

Shamanistic inebriation. 

Religious significance; healing ceremonies. 
Religious ceremonies. 

One or several mushrooms are taken sun-dried or 
slowly toasted over a fire. They may also be drunk as 
an extract in water or reindeer milk or with the juice of 
Vaccinium oliginorum or Epilobium angustifolium. Ri- 
tualistic drinking of the urine of intoxicated individuals 
in Siberia also occurs. 

Ibotenic acid, Muscimole, Muscazone. 

Euphoria, colored visions, macropsia; on occasion 
religious fervor and deep sleep may occur. 

Hallucinogenic intoxication (?), folk medicine, aphro- 

The highly aromatic rhizome is valued locally as a 
condiment; a tea from the leaves is employed in folk 

Beyond the high content of essential oil (to which hal- 
lucinogenic activity might be due) in the rhizome of this 
relative of Ginger, little is known of the chemistry. 

Ceremonial use in Native American tribes. 

Employed especially by the medicine men as a hal- 
lucinogen in magic ceremonies. 

The seeds are valued by Yaqui medicine men. 

Cytisus is rich in the lupine alkaloid cytisine. 

Hallucinogenic activity has not been reported from 
cytisine, but it is known to be toxic. 

Used as auditory hallucinogen. 

Taken by sorcerers to enable them to approach 
people without being detected and to make people 

The fungi are eaten. 

There is as yet no phytochemical basis to explain the 
psychotropic effects. 

Witches’ brews; magic infusions. 
Induces a clairvoyant trance. 

The dried herb is smoked as a cigarette or smoked in a 
smokehouse. The seeds are mainly smoked. The 
seeds are used as a substitute for hops in making beer. 
Dosage varies from person to person. 

The active principles in this solanaceous genus are 
tropane alkaloids, especially hyoscyamine and scopo- 
lamine, the latter being mainly responsible for the 
hallucinogenic effects. 

in Oaxaca, Mexico, the Mazatec Indians cultivate 
S. divinorum for its hallucinogenic properties in divi- 
natory rituals. 

It is apparently used when Teonanacatl or Ololiuqui 
seeds are rare. 

The leaves are chewed fresh or crushed on a metate, 
then diluted with water and filtered for a drink. 

The main active ingredient, salvinorin A, can bring 
about extreme hallucinations when inhaled in amounts 
of 250 to 500 meg. 

Medicine men take Hikuli Mulato to make their sight 
clearer and permit them to commune with sorcerers. It 
is taken by runners as a stimulant and “protector” and 
the Indians believe that it prolongs life. 

Cactus flesh is eaten fresh or dried. 

Alkaloids and triterpenes have been reported. 

This cactus is reportedly able to drive evil people to 
insanity and throw them from cliffs. 

Valuing it in witchcraft, the Tarahumara believe that 
thieves are powerless to steal when this cactus calls 
its soldiers to its aid. 

The Huichol consider Ariocarpus to be evil, insisting 
that it may cause permanent insanity. 

Consumed either fresh or crushed in water. 

Several phenylethylamine alkaloids have been 

Iboga is known to be used as a hallucinogen in magico- 
religious context, especially the Bwiti cult, and serves 
to seek information from ancestors and the spirit world, 
hence “a coming to terms with death.” Moreover, intox- 
ication is practiced in the initiation ceremonies. 

The drug also has the reputation of a powerful 
stimulant and aphrodisiac. 

Fresh or dried roots are eaten pure, or added to palm 
wine. Roughly lOg of dried root powder induces a 
psychedelic effect. 

Iboga contains at least a dozen indole alkaloids, ibo- 
gaine being the most important. Ibogaine is a strong 
psychic stimulant that in high doses produces also 
hallucinogenic effects. 

The hallucinogenic use of Mimosa hostilis in ceremo- 
nies seems to have nearly disappeared today. Em- 
ployed in connection with warfare. 

The root of Mimosa hostilis was the source of a “mira- 
culous drink,” known locally as Ajuca or Vinho de Jure- 

One active alkaloid identical with the hallucinogenic N, 
/V-dimethy!-tryptamine has been isolated. 

Probably once used as a vision-inducing hallucino- 

In the hinterlands of South Africa, the roots and leaves 
are still smoked. 

Apparently, the leaves are sometimes dried after 
fermentation and chewed as an inebriant. 

The common name is today applied to several species 
of Sceletium and Mesembryanthemum that have alka- 
loids - mesembrine and mesembrenine - with sedative 
activities capable of inducing torpor. 

Kanna produces a strong intoxication. 













Solandra brevicalyx Standi, ; 
S. guerrerensis Martinez 

Mentioned by Hernandez as Tecomaxochitl or Hueipatl 
of the Aztec Indians. 

In the mythology and symbolism of the Mexican Hui- 
chol and other tribes, several species of Solandra are 




Tanaecium nocturnum (Barb.-Rodr.) 
Bur. et K. Schum. 

Employed by the Karitiana Indians of the Rio Madeira in 
Amazonian Brazil. 





Mitragyna speciosa Korthals 

In the 19th century, Kratom was known as an opium 
substitute in Thailand and Malaysia. 




Pancratium trianthum Herbert 

Kwashi is employed by the Bushmen, in Dobe, 



Arbol de los Brujos 


Latua pubiflora (Griseb.) Baill. 

Formerly used by the Mapuche Indian shamans of 
Valdivia, Chile. 


Liberty Cap 



Psilocybe semilanceata (Fries) Quelet 

It is possible that this fungus has been used for psycho- 
active purposes in Central Europe for about 1 2,000 
years. Earlier, it was usedasa hallucinogen by theAlpen 
nomads and has also been used in European witchcraft. 


Lion's Tail 

Wild Dagga " 



Leonitis leonurus (L.) R. Br. 

This herb has been used as a narcotic in southern Africa 
since ancient times. 


Maiden's Acacia 


Acacia maideniiF. von Muell.; 
A. phlebophylla F. von Muell.; 
A. simplicifolia Druce 

Many Acacias are used in traditional medicine. The 
psychoactive use of Acacia, which contains DMT, is very 
recent and has been developed especially in Australia 
and California. 


Malva Colorada 




Sida acuta Burm.; S. rhombifolia L. 

Sida acuta and Sida rhombifolia are said to be smoked 
along the Gulf Coast of Mexico. 



(see also pages 86-91) 

Mandragora ofticinarum L. 

Mandrake has a complex history in the Old World. 

The root of Mandrake can be likened to the human 
form, hence its magic. 










Ta Ma 

(see also pages 92-1 01 ) 

Cannabis sativa L.; C. indica Lam. 

In India, use of Cannab^ las had religious significance. 

Specimens Qeari«,@| years old have turned up in an 
Egyptian site. 1 U] ° 

In ancient TfrvB§C^h£*®ant was made into a drink with 
opium-like effect?^ Ur 

The Scythians, who threw Hemp seeds and leaves on 
hot stones in steam baths to produce an intoxicating 
smoke, grew the plant along the Volga 3,000 years ago. 

Chinese tradition puts the use of the plant back 4,800 

Indian medical writing, compiled before 1000 b. c., re- 
ports therapeutic uses of Cannabis. 

The Greek physician Galen wrote, about a. d. 1 60, that 
general use of Cannabis in cakes produced intoxication. 

In 13th-century Asia Minor, organized murderers, 
rewarded with Hashish, were known as hashishins, from 
which may come the term assassin in European 



Justicia pectoralis Jacq. var. 
stenophylla Leonard 

The Waika and other Indians of the uppermost Orinoco 
and the adjacent parts of northwestern Brazil cultivate 






The Huichol worship and fear Solandra as a god-nar- 
cotic, Kieli, a powerful aid in sorcery. Realizing the 
close relationship of Solandra, Datura, and Brugman- 
s fa, the Huichol sometimes combine their use: they 
distinguish between Datura inoxia or Kielitsa (“bad 
Kieli”) and the real Kieli or Solandra. 

S. guerrerensis is known to be employed as an 
intoxicant in the state of Guerrero. 

A tea made from the juice of the branches of both spe- 
cies is known to be employed as an intoxicant. 

The genus Solandra, closely related to Datura, con- 
tains hyoscyamine, scopolamine, nortropine, tropine, 
scopine, cuscohygrine, and other tropane alkaloids 
with strong hallucinogenic effects. 

Folk medicine. 

This species is said to be praised as an aphrodisiac 
by Indians of the Colombian Choco. 

A tea is made of the leaves of this liana and those of an 
unidentified plant as a remedy for diarrhea. 

Reports from botanical collectors of the odor of T. noc- 
turnurn suggest that cyanogenesis occurs in this spe- 
cies. Saponines and tannins have been isolated. 

In Southeast Asia, the leaves are chewed or smoked 
for use as a stimulant or a narcotic. 

Fresh leaves are chewed, dried, and smoked, or taken 
internally as a tea or extract. The leaves are sometimes 
used together with Betel. 

The entire plant contains alkaloids, of which Mitragy- 
nine is the main active ingredient. Mitragynine, which is 
chemically similar to yohimbine and psilocybine, is a 
very powerful psychoactive substance. 

Reportedly used as a hallucinogen and in folk medi- 

Religious importance assumed in tropical West Africa. 

The bulbs are cut in two and rubbed over incisions on 
the scalp. This custom most closely approaches the 
Western habit of injecting medicine. 

Many of the 1 5 species contain very toxic alkaloids. 
The toxic state may be accompanied by hallucinogenic 

Latue is a virulent poison once used to induce delir- 
ium, hallucinations, and even permanent insanity. 

Dosages were a secret closely guarded. The fresh fruit 
was preferentially employed. 

The leaves and fruit contain 0.15% hyoscyamine and 
0.08 % of scopolamine, responsible for hallucinogenic 

This mushroom has been used worldwide for its hal- 
lucinogenic and vision-inducing qualities. 

Eaten fresh or dried. Thirty fresh mushrooms or 
roughly 3g of dried mushrooms is a sufficient psyche- 
delic dose. 

Contains high concentrations of psilocybin, and some 
psilocine and baeocystine (the total alkaloid concen- 
tration is roughly 1 % of the dried mass). This is a 
potent hallucinogen. 

The Hottentots and bush people smoke the plant as a 
narcotic or as a substitute for Cannabis. 

The dried buds and leaves are smoked either alone or 
mixed with tobacco. 

There have been no chemical studies to date. 

Acacia resin is used in conjunction with Pituri by the 
Australian Aborigines. Today, various varieties of 
Acacia are used as DMT sources and also in the pre- 
paration of Ayahuasca analogs for hallucinogenic 

Extracts from the husk and leaves of A. maidenii, the 
bark of A. simplicifolia, or the leaves of A. phlebophylla 
are combined with the seeds from Peganum harmala. 

Many varieties of Acacia contain the psychedelic sub- 
stance, DMT. The bark of A. maidenii contains 0.36% 
DMT; the leaves of A. phlebophylla contain 0.3% DMT. 
The bark of A. simplicifolia can contain up to 3.6% al- 
kaloids, of which DMTaccounts for roughly one third. 

Employed as a stimulant and substitute for Marijuana. 


Ephedrine, which induces a mild stimulating effect, has 
been reported from these species of Sida. 

Used as a panacea, Mandrake played an extraordin- 
ary role as a magic plant and hallucinogen in Eur- 
opean folklore. An active hallucinogenic ingredient of 
the witches’ brews, Mandrake was probably the most 
potent admixture. 

There existed various precautions in pulling the root 
from the earth because the plant’s unearthly shrieks 
could drive collectors mad. 

Tropane alkaloids with hyoscyamine as the main con- 
stituent besides scopolamine, atropine, mandragorine, 
and others are the psychoactive constituents. The total 
content of tropane alkaloids in the root is 0.4%. 

Cannabis has a long history of use in folk medicine 
and as a psychoactive substance. 

It is the source of fiber, an edible fruit, an industrial 
oil, a medicine, and an intoxicant. 

Use of Cannabis has grown in popularity in the past 
40 years as the plant has spread to nearly all parts of 
the globe. Increase in the plant’s use as an inebriantin 
Western countries, especially in urban centers, has 
led to major problems and dilemmas for European 
and American authorities. There is a sharp division of 
opinion as to whether the widespread use of Canna- 
b/'sis a vice that must be stamped out or is an innoc- 
uous habit that should be permitted legally. The sub- 
ject is debated hotly, usually with limited knowledge. 

Methods of consuming Cannabis vary. In the New 
World, Marijuana (Maconha in Brazil) is smoked — the 
dried, crushed flowering tips or leaves are often mixed 
with tobacco or other herbs in cigarettes. Hashish, the 
resin from the female plant, is eaten or smoked, often 
in water pipes, by millions in Muslim countries of 
northern Africa and western Asia. In Afghanistan and 
Pakistan, the resin is commonly smoked. East Indians 
regularly employ three preparations: Bhang consists of 
plants that are gathered green, dried and made into a 
drink with water or milk or into a candy (majun) with 
sugar and spices; Charas, normally smoked or eaten 
with spices, is pure resin; Ganja, usually smoked with 
tobacco, consists of resin-rich dried tops from the 
female plant. 

The psychoactive principles — cannabinotic com- 
pounds— are found in greatest concentration in a resin 
produced most abundantly in the region of the pistillate 
inflorescence. A fresh plant yields mainly cannabidiolic 
acids, precursors of the tetrahydrocannabinols and re- 
lated constituents, such as cannabinol and cannabi- 
diol. The main effects are attributable to A 1 -3,4-trans- 

The principal effect is euphoria. Everything from a 
mild sense of ease to hallucinations, from feelings of 
exaltation and inner joy to depression and anxiety have 
been reported. The drug’s activities beyond the centra! 
nervous system seem to be secondary. They consist of 
a rise in pulse rate and blood pressure, tremor, vertigo, 
difficulty in muscular coordination, increased tactile 
sensitivity, and dilation of the pupils. 

The natives mix Justicia leaves with the snuff pre- 
pared from Virola (see Epena) to “make the snuff 
smell better” 

The leaves are dried and pulverized. 

Tryptamines have been suspected from several spe- 
cies of Justicia. 













n Cacalia cordifolia L. til. 




Mescal Bean 
Coral Bean 
Red Bean 

j Sophora secundiflora (Ort.) Lag. ex DC. 

Use of Mescal Bean goes far back into prehistory in the 
Rio Grande basin, where they have had ritual uses for at 
least 9,000 years. 

The Arapaho and Iowa tribes in the United States 
were using the beans as early as 1820. 

At least a dozen tribes of Indians in northern Mexico 
and southern Texas practiced a vision-seeking dance. 



Scopolia carniolica Jacques 

Probably used as an ingredient of witches’ salves and 
ointments; used in Eastern Europe as a substitute for 
Mandrake; also used as an intoxicating ingredient in 



1 -4^32*. 


Boletus kumeus Heim; B. manicus Heim; 
B. nigroviolaceus Heim; B. reayi Heim 

New Guinea 





Myristica fragrans Houtt. 

Known as “narcotic fruit” in ancient Indian writings. 
Occasionally used as a surrogate for Hashish in 


Unknown in classical Greece and Rome, Nutmeg was 
introduced to Europe in the first century a. d. by the 
Arabs, who employed it as a medicine. 

Nutmeg poisoning was common in the Middle Ages, 
and during the 1 9 th century in England and America. 





(see also pages 1 70-1 75) 



Turbina corymbosa (L.) Raf. 
[= Rivea corymbosa] 

The seeds of this Morning Glory, formerly known as 
Rivea corymbosa, are valued as one of the major sacred 
hallucinogens of numerous Indian groups in southern 
Mexico. Their use goes back to early periods, and they 
were important in Aztec ceremonies as an intoxicant 
and as a magic potion with reputedly analgesic 


Arbol de Campanilla 

lochroma fuchsioides Miers 

Used by the Indians of the Sibundoy Valley of southern 
Colombia and the Kamsa of the southern Andes of 




Mescal Button 

(see also pages 144-155) 


Lophophora diffusa (Croizat) Bravo; 
L. williamsii (Lem.) Coult. 

Spanish chronicles described use of Peyote by the Az- 
tec Indians. Lophophora is valued today by the Tarahu- 
mara, Huichol, and other Mexican Indians as well as by 
members of the Native American Church in the United 
States and western Canada. 




Pelecyphora aselliformls Ehrenb. 

There are suspicions that this round cactus may be 
valued in Mexico as a “false Peyote.” 





Echinocereus salmdyckianus Scheer; 
E. triglochidiatus Engelm. 

The Tarahumara Indians of Chihuahua consider both 
species as “false Peyotes.” 



Pituri Bush 
Poison Bush 


Duboisia hopwoodii F. con Muell. 

Pituri leaves have been used for at least 40,000 years in 
Australian rituals and are used for both medicinal and 
pleasurable purposes. 



Rhynchosia longeracemosa Mart, et Gal.; 

R. phaseoloides ; R. pyramidalis (Lam.) Urb. 

The red/black beans of several species of Rhynchosia 
may have been employed in ancient Mexico as a 


Rape dos Indios 


Maquira sclerophylla (Ducke) C. C. Berg 

Indians of the Pariana region of the Brazilian Amazon 
formerly used Maquira, but encroaching civilization has 
ended this custom. 






Presumed aphrodisiac and cure for sterility. 

The dried herb is smoked. 

One alkaloid has been reported. 

No evidence of hallucinogenic properties. 

The arrival of the Peyote cult, centering on Lopho- 
phora, a safer hallucinogen, led the natives to aban- 
don the Red Bean Dance, which had made use of the 
beans as an oracular, divinatory, and hallucinogenic 

A drink was prepared from the red beans of 
S. secundiflora. 

The seeds contain the highly toxic alkaloid cytisine, 
which pharmacologically belongs to the same group as 
nicotine. Hallucinogenic activity is unknown from cyti- 
sine, but the powerful intoxication may cause a kind of 
delirium comparable to a visionary trance. 

In high doses, respiratory failure may lead to death. 

Used as an aphrodisiac and psychoactive love potion 
in Lithuania and Latvia. 

The roots are used as an ingredient in beer. The dried 
herb can be smoked alone or mixed with other herbs. 

The whole plant contains strong hallucinogenic tro- 
panalkaloids, especially hyoscyamine and scopola- 
mine. Also contains scopoletine. 

Several species of Boletus are involved in the re- 
ported “mushroom madness" of the Kuma. 

The dried, ground fruit is eaten. 

Active principles unknown. 

The most notable use of Nutmeg is found in Western 
society, especially among prisoners deprived of other 

At least one teaspoon is used when taken orally or 
snuffed for narcotic purposes, although usually much 
more is required to bring on full intoxication. Nutmeg is 
on occasion added to the betel chew. 

The main active ingredient of nutmeg’s essential oils is 
myristicine; safrol and eugenol are also present. 

In high doses extremely toxic and dangerous, the 
components of Nutmeg oil so upset normal body func- 
tions that they evoke a delirium comparable to halluci- 
nations, usually accompanied by severe headache, 
dizziness, nausea, etc. 

At the present time the small round seeds are utilized 
in divination and witchcraft by Chinantec, Mazatec, 
Mixtec, Zapotec, and others and, as has recently 
been stated, "today in almost all villages of Oaxaca 
one finds seeds still serving the natives as an ever- 
present help in time of trouble." 

The seeds, which must be collected by the person who 
is to be treated, are ground by a virgin on a metate, 
water is added, and then the drink is filtered. The 
patient drinks it at night in a quiet, secluded place. 

Ergoline alkaloids were found to be the psychoactive 
principles, lysergic acid amide and lysergic acid hydro- 
xyethylamide, closely related to the potent hallucino- 
gen LSD, being the most important constituents. 

According to shamans, the aftereffects are so strong 
that the plant is used for divination, prophecy, and di- 
agnosis of disease only when other “medicines” are 
unavailable, or for especially difficult cases. 

The fresh bark is rasped from the stem and boiled with 
an equal amount of leaves, usuallya handful. The re- 
sulting tea, when cooled, is drunk with no admixture. 
The dose is said to be one to three cupfuls of a strong 
decoction over a three-hour period. 

Although chemical investigation of this genus has not 
been carried out, it belongs to the Nightshade family, 
well recognized for its hallucinogenic effects. 

The intoxication is not pleasant, having after effects 
of several days. 

Mythological and religious significance; healing cere- 

In the United States, use of Peyote is a vision-quest 
ritual with a combination of Christian and Native ele- 
ments and high moral principles. 

The cactus may be eaten raw, dried, or made into a 
mash or a tea. 

From 4 to 30 tops are consumed during the 

Contains up to 30 alkaloids of the phenylethylamine 
and tetrahydroisoquinoline type. The main constituent 
responsible for the hallucinogenic activity is trimethox- 
yphenylethylamine, named mescaline. 

Hallucinations are characterized by colored visions. 

The cactus is used in northern Mexico as Peyote 
(Lophophora williamsil). 

Cactus flesh is eaten fresh or dried. 

Recent investigations have indicated the presence of 

The Tarahumara sing to Pitallito during collection and 
say it has “high mental qualities.” 

Cactus flesh is eaten fresh or dried. 

A tryptamine derivative has been reported from 
E. triglochidiatus. 

Pituri has been of central importance in Australian 
Aboriginal society as a substance for social enjoy- 
ment, a shamanic magic drug, and a valuable good for 
trade. Pituri is chewed for its narcotic effects, as a 
stimulant to dreams and visions, and simply to be 

The fermented leaves are mixed with alkaline plant 
ashes and other resins (such as Acacia resin) and 

The leaves contain various psychoactive alkaloids 
(piturine, nicotine, nornicotine, anabasine, and others). 
The roots also contain nornicotine and scopolamine. 
The chewed leaves can act as a narcotic, stimulant, or 

Hallucinogenic intoxication (?) 

The seeds are referred to by Indians of Oaxaca by the 
same name used for the hallucinogenic seeds of 
Morning Glory (Turbina corymbosa). 

Chemical studies of Rhynchosia are still indecisive. An 
alkaloid with curare-like activity has been reported 
from one species. Pharmacological experiments with 
R. phaseoloides produced a kind of seminarcosis in 

The snuff was taken during tribal ceremonials. 

The method of preparation from the dried fruit is ap- 
parently remembered only by the very old. 

No chemical studies have been carried out on 
M. sclerophylla. 










Reed Grass 


Phalaris arundinacea L. 

Although Reed Grass was familiar to writers of antiquity, 
its psychoactive use is very recent. 




Carnegiea gigantea (Engelm.) Britt, et Rose 

Southwestern United States and Mexico. Although there 
are apparently no ethnological reports of Saguaro as a 
hallucinogen, the plant is an important medicine among 
the Indians. 





H Tabernaemontana coffeoides Bojer ex DC.; 

T. crassa Bentham; T. dichotoma Roxburgh; 
T. pandacaqui Poir. 

[= Ervatamia pandacaqui (Poir.) Pichon] 

There are many varieties of the genus Tabernaemon- 
tana in Africa and South America. Especially in Africa, 
some varieties seem to have been used for a long time in 
shamanic or traditional medicine practices. 


San Pedro 

(see also pages 166-169) 

Trichocereus pachanoi Britt, et Rose 
J [= Echinopsis pachanoi] 

Used by the natives of South America, especially in the 
Andes of Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. 


Screw Pine 

] Pandanus sp. 

New Guinea 



Phytolacca acinosa Roxb. 





Petunia violacea Lindl. 

A recent report from highland Ecuador has indicated 
that a species of Petunia is valued as a hallucinogen. 




Corlaria thymifolia HBK. ex Willd. 

Peasants in Ecuador. 


Siberian Lion's Tail 
Siberian Motherwort 

Leonurus sibiricus L. 

The Siberian Motherwort has been used medicinally 
from the very beginning of Chinese medicine. Since the 
plant was transplanted to the Americas, it has been used 
as a substitute for Marijuana. 



Heimia sallcifolia (HBK) Link et Otto 

Although all three species of Heimia are important in 
Mexican folk medicine, mainly H. salicifolia has been 
valued for its hallucinogenic properties. 


Straw Flower 

Helichrysum foetidum (L.) Moench; 
H. stenopterum DC. 

Zululand, South Africa. 


Sweet Flag 
Flag Root 
Sweet Calomel 


Acorus calamus L. 

Cree Indians of northwest Canada. 


Syrian Rue 

Peganum harmala L. 

P. harmala is valued today from Asia Minor across to 
India with extraordinary esteem, suggesting former 
religious use as a hallucinogen. 


Taglli n 

Hierba Loca 1 



Pernettya furens (Hook, ex DC.) Klotzch; 
P. parvifolia Bentham 

P. furens is called Hierba Loca in Chile (“maddening 
plant”), while P. parvifolia is known as Taglli in Ecuador. 


Taique L 



Desfontainia spinosa R. et P. 

Reported as a hallucinogen from Chile (Taique) and 
southern Colombia ( Borrachero = “intoxicant"). 






In connection with research on the so-called Aya- 
huasca analogs, a species of Reed Grass has been 
discovered that has a high DMT content and can be 
used psychoactively. 

An extract is made from the leaves. In combination with 
Peganum harmala, it has visionary effects, and can be 
drunk as a substitute for Ayahuasca. 

This grass contains many indole alkaloids, especially 
N,N-DMT,5-MeO-DMT,MMT and [sometimes] gramine. 
DMT and 5-MeO-DMT have very strong psychedelic 
effects, while gramine is very toxic. 

The Seri Indians of Sonora consider Saguaro effica- 
cious against rheumatism. 

The fruit of Carnegiea is valued as food and in wine- 

The plant contains pharmacologically active alkaloids 
capable of psychoactivity. Carnegine, 5-hydroxycarne- 
gine, and norcarnegine, plus trace amounts of 3-meth- 
oxytyramine and the new alkaloid arizonine (a tetrahy- 
droquinoline base), have been isolated. 

Tabernaemontana crassa is used in West Africa as a 
narcotic in traditional medicine. T. dichotoma is used 
for its psychoactive effects in India and Sri Lanka. 

The seeds of T. dichotoma are used as a hallucinogen. 
Unfortunately, very little is known about this interesting 

Most varieties contain ibogaine-like alkaloids (such as 
voacangine), which have very strong hallucinogenic 
and vision-inducing effects. 

Hallucinogenic intoxication. 

The use of T. pachanoi appears to be primarily for 
divination, diagnosis of disease, and to make oneself 
owner of another’s identity. 

Short pieces of the stem are sliced and boiled in water 
for several hours. Several other plants, Brugmansia, 
Pernettya, and Lycopodium, for example, are some- 
times added. 

T. pachanoi is rich in mescaline: 2% of dried material 
(or 0.12% of fresh material). 

A species of Pandanus is said to be used for halluci- 
nogenic purposes, while others are known to be va- 
lued in folk medicine, in magic, and for ceremonial 

It has recently been reported that natives of New 
Guinea employ the fruit of a species of Pandanus. 

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) has been detected in an al- 
kaloid extract. Eating substantial amounts of the nuts is 
said to cause an “outbreak of irrational behavior” 
known as Karuka madness among local people. 

Shang-la is a well-known medicinal plant in China. It 
was reportedly used by sorcerers, who valued its hal- 
lucinogenic effects. 

The flowers and roots enter Chinese medicine: the for- 
mer for treating apoplexy, the latter for external use 

P. acinosa has a high concentration of saponines. 

The toxicity and hallucinogenic effects of Shang-li 
are commonly mentioned in Chinese herbals. 

Taken by the Indians of Ecuador to induce a sensation 
of flight. 

The dried herb is smoked. 

Phytochemical studies of Petunia are lacking. 
The plant is said to induce a feeling of flying. 

Recent reports suggest that the fruit may purposefully 
be eaten to induce intoxication. 

The fruit is eaten. 

The chemistry is still poorly known. 

Levitation or sensations of soaring through the air. 

This herb is smoked in Brazil and Chiapas as a sub- 
stitute for Cannabis. 

The flowering herb is dried and smoked alone or mixed 
with other plants. One to 2g of the dried plant is an 
effective dose. 

Contains alkaloids, flavonglycosides, diterpenes, and 
an essential oil. The psychoactive effects may be attri- 
butable to the diterpenes (leosibiricine, leosibirine, and 

Mexican natives report that Sinicuichi possesses 
supernatural virtues, but the plant does not appear to 
be taken ritually or ceremonially. 

Some natives assert that it helps them clearly to 
recall happenings of long ago — even prenatal events. 

In the Mexican highlands the leaves of H. salicifolia are 
slightly wilted, crushed in water, and then allowed to 
ferment into an intoxicating drink. 

Alkaloids of the quinolizidine type have been isolated, 
among them cryogenine (vertine), to which the psy- 
chotropic activity may be attributed. 

The beverage induces giddiness, a darkening of the 
surroundings, shrinkage of the world around, and a 
pleasant drowsiness. Auditory hallucinations may oc- 
cur with voices and distorted sounds that seem to 
come from far away. 

These herbs are used by native doctors “for inhaling to 
induce trances.” 

The dried herb is smoked. 

Coumarins and diterpenes are reported, but no consti- 
tuents with hallucinogenic properties have been 

Antifatigue medicine; also used against toothache, 
headache, and asthma. 

Hallucinogenic intoxication (uncertain) 

Chewing of the rootstalk. 

The active principles are a-asarone and p-asarone. 

In large doses, visual hallucinations and other ef- 
fects similar to those of LSD may occur. 

Syrian Rue has many uses in folk medicine, as well as 
being valued as an aphrodisiac. Often used as 

The dried seeds constitute the Indian drug Harmal. 

The plant possesses undoubted hallucinogenic princi- 
ples: p-carboline alkaloids— harmine, harmaline, tetra- 
hydroharmine, and related bases known to occur in at 
least eight families of higher plants. These constituents 
are found in the seeds. 

Known to be employed as a hallucinogen, it has been 
suggested that Pernettya has played a role in magico- 
religious ceremonies in South America — a still unpro- 
ven claim. 

Eating of the fruit. 

The chemistry of the toxic fruits of both P. furens and 
P. parvifolia, which cause mental confusion and even 
insanity, is not yet elucidated. 

Medicine men of the Kamsa tribe drink a tea from the 
leaves for the purpose of diagnosing disease or when 
they “want to dream” 

Tea made from the leaves or fruit. 

Nothing is as yet known of the chemistry of D. spinosa. 
Visions are experienced and some of the medicine 
men assert that they temporarily “go crazy" under its 




Helicostylis pedunculata Benoist; In the Guianas, Takini is a sacred tree. 

H. tomentosa (P. et E.) Macbride 

38 Takini fg 








Hongo de San Isidro 



(see also pages 1 56-1 63) 

Thorn Apple 

(see also pages 1 06-1 1 1 ) 

Conocybe siligineoides Heim: 

Panaeolus sphinctrinus (Fr.) Quelet; 

Psilocybe acutissima Heim; 

P. aztecorum Heim; P. caerulescens Murr.; 

P. caerulescens Murr. var. albida Heim; 

P. caerulescens Murr. var. mazatecorum Heim; 
P. caerulescens Murr. var. nigripes Heim; 

P caerulescens Murr. var. ombrophila Heim; 

P mexicana Heim; P. mixaeensis Heim; 

P semperviva Heim et Cailleux; 

P. wasson/V Heim; 

P. yungensis Singer; P. zapotecorum Heim; 
Psilocybe cubensis Earle 

Datura stramonium L. 

Mushroom worship seems to be rooted in centuries of 
native Indian tradition of Middle America. 

The Aztec Indians called the sacred mushrooms Teo- 
nanacatl; the Mazatec and Chinantec in northeastern 
Oaxaca, Mexico, refer to Panaeolus sphinctrinus as 
T-ha-na-sa, To-shka (“intoxicating mushroom’’), and 
She-to (“pasture mushrooms"). While in Oaxaca Psilo- 
cybe cubensis is named Hongo de San Isidro, in the 
Mazatec language it is called Di-shi-tjo-le-rra-ja (“divine 
mushroom of manure"). 

Reportedly employed by the Algonquin and others. 

Ingredient of the witches’ brews of medieval Europe. 
Used in both the Old and New World, the geographic 
origin of Jimsonweed is uncertain. 




(see also pages 106-1 11) 


Datura innoxia Mill.; 

D. discolor Bernh. ex Tromms.; 
D. kymatocarpa A. S. Barclay; 
D. pruinosa Greenm.; 

D. quercifolia HBK; 

D. reburra A. S. Barclay; 

D. stramonium L.; 

D. wrightii Regel. 

Known also as D. meteloides, D. innoxia is used in Mex- 
ico and the American Southwest. 



Tabaco del Diablo 


Lobelia tupa L. 

Recognizing L. tupa as toxic, the Mapuche Indians of 
Chile value the leaves for their intoxicating properties. 
Other Andean Indians take it as an emetic and 


Turkestan Mint 


Lagochilus inebrians Bunge 

The Tajik, Tatar, Turkoman, and Uzbek tribesman on the 
dry steppes of Turkestan have for centuries prepared a 
tea made from L. inebrians. 



Voacanga africana Stapf; 

V. bracteata Stapf; 

V. dregei E. Mey. V. grandiflora (Miq.) Rolfe. 

In Africa, a number of varieties of the genus Voacanga 
have been used as hallucinogens, aphrodisiacs, and 


Hikuli Rosapara 

Peyote de San Pedro 

Mammillaria craigii Lindsay; 
M. grahamii Engelm.; 

M. senilis (Lodd.) Weber 

The Tarahumara Indians of Mexico value several spe- 
cies of Mammillaria among the most important “false 


Wood Rose 
Hawaiian Wood Rose 


Argyreia nervosa (Burman f.) Bojer 

The Wood Rose has been used since ancient times in 
Ayurvedic medicine. A traditional use as a hallucinogen 

has been discovered in Nepal. 



Tagetes lucida Cav. 

Tagetes is used by the Huichol of Mexico and valued 
ceremonially for its hallucinatory effects. 



Caesalpinia sepiaria Roxb. 

[= C. decapetala (Roth) Alston] 

China; used medicinally in Tibet and Nepai. 


Aztec Dream Grass 

Calea zacatechichi Schlecht. 

Seems to be used only by the Chontal Indians of Oaxa- 
ca, even though it ranges from Mexico to Costa Rica. 






Little is known of the use. 

A mildly poisonous intoxicant is prepared from the red 
“sap” of the bark. 

No specific hallucinogenic constituents have been 
identified. Extracts from the inner bark of both species 
have pharmacologically been shown to elicit depres- 
sant effects similar to those produced by Marijuana. 

Mythological and sacramental use. 

Employed today in divination and healing ceremo- 

Contacts with Christianity or modern ideas do not 
seem to have influenced the deep spirit of reverence 
characteristic of the mushroom ritual. 

It has been suggested that Psilocybe species may 
be employed for hallucinogenic inebriation also by the 
Yurimagua Indians of Amazonian Peru. 

Personal preference, purpose of use, and seasonal 
availability determine the kinds of mushrooms used by 
different shamans. P mexicana, one of the most widely 
used, may perhaps be considered the most typical 
sacred mushroom. 

Anywhere from 2 to 30 mushrooms (depending on 
the type used) are eaten during a typical ceremony. 
They may be consumed either fresh or ground and 
made into an infusion. 

The indolic alkaloids psilocybine and psilocineare the 
main hallucinogenic principles of the sacred mush- 
rooms. The content varies from species to species be- 
tween 0.2 and 0.6% of psilocybine and small amounts 
of psilocine in dried mushroom material. The mush- 
rooms cause both visual and auditory hallucinations, 
with the dreamlike state becoming reality. 

Initiation rites. 

Ingredient of the witches’ brews. 

The roots of the Thorn Apple may have been used in 
the hallucinogenic Algonquin drink wysoccan. 

See Toloache. 

D. innoxia was employed medicinally and as a sacred 
hallucinogen by the Aztec and other Indians. TheZuni 
Indians value the plant as an analgesic and as a 
poultice to cure wounds and bruises. Toloache is said 
to be the exclusive property of the rain priests. Valued 
in initiation rituals. 

The Tarahumara add D. innoxia to their maize beer and 
use the roots, seeds, and leaves. 

The Zuni chew the roots and put powder prepared 
from them into the eyes. 

Among the Yokut Indians, the seeds are said to be 
taken only once during a man’s lifetime. 

All species of the genus Datura are chemically similar 
with the active principles tropane alkaloids, especially 
hyoscyamine and scopolamine, the latter being the 
main component. 

Hallucinogenic intoxication; folk medicine. 

Smoking of the leaves and taken internally. 

Tupa leaves contain the piperidine alkaloid lobeline, a 
respiratory stimulant, as well as the diketo- and dihy- 
droxy-derivatives lobelamidineand nor-lobelamidine, 
which are not known hallucinogenic. 

Hallucinogenic intoxication. 

The leaves are toasted to produce a tea. Drying and 
storage increases the aromatic fragrance. Stems, 
fruiting tops, and flowers may be added. 

The presence of a crystalline compound called lago- 
chiline— a diterpene of the grindelian type— is known. 
This compound is not known to be hallucinogenic. 

The seeds of various Voacanga varieties are taken by 
African magic men to create visual hallucinations. 

The seeds or the bark of various Voacanga varieties 
can be taken. 

Many varieties of Voacanga contain psychoactive in- 
dole alkaloids, especially voacangine and voccamine, 
both of which are chemically related to ibogaine. 

Used as a visual hallucinogen. 

M. grahamii is taken by shamans in special cere- 

M. craigii'is split open, sometimes roasted, and the 
central tissue is used. The top of the plant, divested of 
its spines, is the most powerful part; the fruit and upper 
part of M. grahamii are said to have similar effects. 

A/-methyl-3, 4-di-methoxyphenylethylamine has been 
isolated from M. heyderii, a close relative to M. craigii. 

Deep sleep, during which a person is said to travel 
great distances, and brilliant colors characterize the 

In Ayurvedic medicine, Wood Rose is used as a tonic 
and as an aphrodisiac, and it is also used to increase 
intelligence and to slow down the aging process. To- 
day, the seeds are of interest in Western society for 
their psychoactive properties. 

The seeds are ground and mixed with water. Four to 8 
seeds (approximately 2 g) are sufficient for a medium 
psychoactive dose. 

The seeds contain 0.3% ergot alkaloids (especially 
chanoclavin-l, also ergine (LSA), ergonovine, and iso- 
lysergic acid amide. 

Used to induce or enhance visions. 

T. lucida is occasionally smoked alone but is some- 
times mixed with tobacco (Nicotiana rustica). 

No alkaloids have been isolated from Tagetes, but 
the genus is rich in essential oils and thiophene 

If consumed over a long period, the flowers are said to 
induce levitation and “communication with the spirits." 
Folk medicine. 

Roots, flowers, and seeds. 

An unknown alkaloid has been reported. 

The earliest Chinese herbal stated: the “flowers en- 
able one to see spirits and cause one to stagger 

Used in folk medicine, especially as an aperitif, a feb- 
rifuge, and an astringent for treating diarrhea. The 
Chontal take Zacatechichi to clarify the senses. 

Tea is made of the crushed dried leaves and used as a 
hallucinogen. After drinking Zacatechichi, the Indians 
recline quietly to smoke a cigarette of the dried leaves. 

There is an as yet unidentified alkaloid. Also contains 

Restful and drowsy condition during which the In- 
dians say that one’s own heart and pulse can be felt. 




Of the ninety-seven hallucinogens in 
the lexicon, the most important are dis- 
cussed in detail in the ensuing chapters. 
Several reasons underlie our selection. 
Most of these plants are or have been 
so culturally and materially important 
in aboriginal societies that they cannot 
be overlooked. A few are of special bo- 
tanical or chemical interest. Others are 
of great antiquity. Still others have re- 
cently been discovered or identified. 
And the use of one has spread through- 
out the modern world and is now of vi- 
tal importance. 

Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric), one 
of the oldest hallucinogens, is employed 
in both hemispheres and is biochemi- 
cally significant, since its active princi- 
ple is atypically excreted unmetabo- 

The use of Peyote (Lophophora wil- 
liamsu), of great antiquity, has now 
spread from its original Mexican home- 
land to Texas in the United States, 
where it is the basis of a new Indian re- 
ligion. Its main psychoactive alkaloid, 
mescaline, is utilized in psychiatry. 

The religious use of mushrooms — 
known as Teonanacatl — in Mexico and 
Guatemala is ancient and was firmly es- 
tablished among the Aztec Indians at the 
time of the Conquest. Their psychoac- 
tive constituents are novel structures 
not known in any other plants. 

Of similar importance, and as an- 
cient, are the seeds of several Morning 
Glories. Their use has persisted until 
the present in southern Mexico. Of 
great chemo-taxonomic interest, their 
psychoactive constituents are found on- 
ly in an unrelated group of fungi, con- 
taining Ergot, which may have been 
hallucinogenically important in ancient 

Deadly Nightshade, Henbane, and 
Mandrake were the main ingredients of 
the witches’ brews of medieval Europe, 
where they long exerted a great cultural 
and historical influence. 

In both hemispheres, Datura played 
highly significant roles in native cul- 
tures. The related Brugmansia is still 

employed as one of the principal hallu- 
cinogens in South America. 

Archaeology indicates that the South 
American cactus Trichocereus pachanoi 
has a long history, although it has only 
recently been identified as a principal 
hallucinogen of the central Andes. 

The most significant African halluci- 
nogen is Iboga, employed in initiation 
rituals and to communicate with ances- 
tors. Spreading today in Gabon and the 
Congo, it is a unifying culture trait de- 
terring the intrusion of foreign customs 
from Western society. 

The intoxicating drink prepared from 
Banisteriopsis holds a place of cultural 
primacy throughout the western Ama- 
zon. Known in Peru as Ayahuasca 
(“vine of the soul”), it allows the soul to 
leave the body and wander freely, com- 
municating with the spirit world. Its 
psychoactive principles are (3-carbolines 
and tryptamines. 

Three snuffs are of importance in cer- 
tain South American cultures. One, in 
the western Amazon, is prepared from 
a resin like liquid produced in the bark 
of several species of Virola. The others, 
made from the beans of a species of 
Anadenanthera and used in the Orino- 
co, adjacent Amazon, and Argentina, 
was formerly also valued in the West In- 
dies. Both snuffs play significant roles in 
the life of many Indian groups and are 
of chemical interest, since their active 
principles are tryptamines. 

Pituri is the most important psycho- 
active substance in Australia. Cannabis, 
an ancient Asiatic hallucinogen, is now 
used in nearly all parts of the world. An 
understanding of its roles in primitive 
societies may help elucidate its popular- 
ity in Western culture. Some of the fifty 
chemical structures found in Cannabis 
are medically promising. 

A long chapter could well be written 
about any of the more than ninety spe- 
cies which have been enumerated in the 
plant lexicon. But in the interest of 
space, the following have been treated 
in greater detail for the reasons out- 

The Greek lecythus is a sacramental 
vessel filled with fragrant oils and placed 
next to a death bed or grave. On this 
lecythus (450-425 b. c.), a crowned 
Triptolemus holds the Eleusinian grain, a 
grass probably infected with Ergot; while 
Demeter or Persephone pours a sacred 
libation, prepared presumably from the 
infected grain. The two figures are sepa- 
rated by the staff of Triptolemus and uni- 
ted into one field by the grain and poured 

Page 80: Mandrake (Mandragora offici- 
narum), “the man-like plant,” has a 
complex history of usage. In Europe, it 
was employed as a stupefacient in 
addition to being one of the strongest 
ingredients added to the brews con- 
cocted by witches of the Middle Ages. 
The root of the Mandrake was likened to 
the form of a man or woman, and ac- 
cording to superstition, if the plant were 
pulled from the earth, its shrieks could 
drive the collectors mad. This image of 
Mandragora was engraved by the well- 
known artist Matthaus Merian in the 
early eighteenth century. 



(The number refers to the “Plant Lexi- 
con"; the common name refers to the 
reference chart “Overview of Plant 

Page 83 top: Cliff drawing of a shaman 
in the Altai mountains of Asia. 

Page 83 right: Fly Agaric (Amanita 
muscaria) is found around the world and 
is associated nearly everywhere with 
fairy worlds, alternative realities, and 
shamanic practices. 

Soma, the god-narcotic of ancient India, 
attained an exalted place in magico- 
religious ceremonies of the Aryans, 
who 3,500 years ago swept down from 
the north into the Indus Valley, bringing 
with them the cult of Soma. These early 
invaders of India worshiped the holy in- 
ebriant and drank an extract of it in their 
most sacred rites. Whereas most halluci- 
nogenic plants were considered merely 
as sacred mediators, Soma became a god 
in its own right. An ancient Indian tra- 
dition recorded in the Rig- Veda asserts 
that “Parjanya, the god of thunder, was 
the father of Soma” (Indra). 

“Enter into the heart of Indra, receptacle 

Siberian shamans use elaborate sym- 
bolic costumes and decorated drums in 
their ceremonies. The left figure is a 
shaman from Krasnojarsk District; at 
right, the Kamtchatka District. 

of Soma, like rivers into the ocean, thou 
who pleasest Mitra, Varuna, Vaya, 
mainstay of heaven! . . . Father of the 
gods, progenitor of the moving force, 
mainstay of the sky, foundation of the 

Of the more than 1 ,000 holy hymns in 
the Rig-Veda, 120 are devoted exclu- 
sively to Soma, and references to this ve- 
getal sacrament run through many of the 
other hymns. The cult was suppressed, 
and the original holy plant was forgot- 
ten; other plant surrogates — with little 

or no psychoactivity — were substituted. 
Yet the identity of Soma remained one 
of the enigmas of ethnobotany for two 
thousand years. Only in 1968 did the in- 
terdisciplinary research of Gordon Was- 
son provide persuasive evidence that the 
sacred narcotic was a mushroom, Ama- 
nita muscaria, the Fly Agaric. Amanita 
muscaria may be the oldest of the hallu- 
cinogens and perhaps was once the most 
widely used. 

The curious hallucinogenic use of 
Amanita muscaria has been documen- 
ted since 1730. It was then that a Swed- 
ish military officer, a prisoner of war in 
Siberia for twelve years, reported that 
primitive tribesmen there employed the 
Fly Agaric as a shamanistic inebriant. 
The custom persisted among scattered 
groups of Finno-Ugrian peoples of Si- 
beria. Traditions suggest that other 
groups in this vast northern region also 
used the mushroom. 

A Koryak legend tells us that the cul- 
ture hero. Big Raven, caught a whale 
but was unable to put such a heavy ani- 
mal back into the sea. The god Vahiyi- 
nin (Existence) told him to eat wapaq 
spirits to get the strength that he 
needed. Vahiyinin spat upon the earth, 
and little white plants — the wapaq spir- 
its — appeared; they had red hats and 
Vahiyinin’s spittle congealed as white 
flecks. When he had eaten wapaq. Big 
Raven became exceedingly strong, and 
he pleaded: “O wapaq, grow forever on 
earth.” Whereupon he commanded his 
people to learn what wapaq could teach 
them. Wapaq is the Fly Agaric, a gift di- 
rectly from Vahiyinin. 

These Siberian mushroom users had 
no other intoxicants, until the Russians 
introduced alcohol. They dried the 
mushrooms in the sun and ingested 
them either alone or as an extract in 
water, reindeer milk, or the juice of sev- 
eral sweet plants. When the mushroom 
was swallowed as a solid, it was first 
moistened in the mouth, or a woman 
rolled it in her mouth into a moistened 
pellet for the men to swallow. The 
ceremonial use of the Fly Agaric de- 
veloped a ritualistic practice of urine- 
drinking, since these tribesmen learned 


that the psychoactive principles of the 
mushroom pass through the body 
unmetabolized, or in the form of still 
active metabolites — most unusual for 
hallucinogenic compounds in plants. 
An early account, referring to the Kor- 
yak, reported that “they pour water on 
some of the mushrooms and boil them. 
They then drink the liquor, which intox- 
icates them; the poorer sort, who cannot 
afford to lay in a store of the mush- 
rooms, post themselves on these occa- 
sions round the huts of the rich and 
watch the opportunity of the guests 
coming down to make water and then 
hold a wooden bowl to receive the urine, 
which they drink off greedily, as having 
still some virtue of the mushroom in it, 
and by this way, they also get drunk.” 

The Rig-Veda definitely refers to urine- 
drinking in the Soma ritual: “The swol- 
len men piss the flowing Soma. The 
lords, with full bladders, piss Soma 
quick with movement.” The priests im- 
personating Indra and Vayu, having 
drunk Soma in milk, urinate Soma. In 
the Vedic poems, urine is not offensive 
but is an ennobling metaphor to describe 
rain: the blessings of rain are likened to 
showers of urine, and the clouds fertilize 
the earth with their urine. 

A traveler among the Koryak in the 
early twentieth century offered one of 
the few descriptions of intoxication in 
aboriginal use of the mushroom. He 
wrote that the “Fly Agaric produces in- 
toxication, hallucinations, and delirium. 
Light forms of intoxication are accom- 
panied by a certain degree of animation 
and some spontaneity of movements. 
Many shamans, previous to their se- 
ances, eat Fly Agaric to get into ecstatic 
states . . . Under strong intoxication, the 
senses become deranged, surrounding 
objects appear either very large or very 
small, hallucinations set in, spontaneous 
movements and convulsions. So far as I 
could observe, attacks of great anima- 
tion alternate with moments of deep de- 
pression. The person intoxicated by Fly 
Agaric sits quietly rocking from side to 
side, even taking part in conversations 
with his family. Suddenly, his eyes dilate, 
he begins to gesticulate convulsively, 

The Chemistry of Fiy Agaric 

The active principle of Amanita muscaria was thought once, a century ago, to 
have been muscarine when Schmiedeberg and Koppe isolated this sub- 
stance. This belief has been proved erroneous. Recently Eugster in Switzer- 
land and Takemoto in Japan isolated ibotenic acid and the alkaloid muscimole 
as being responsible for the Fly Agaric’s psychotropic effects. The mushroom 
is taken usually dried. The drying process induces the chemical transforma- 
tion of ibotenic acid to muscimole, the most active constituent. 


Above left: To bring good luck into the 
coming year, fireworks in the shape of 
Fly Agaric are set off on New Year's Eve. 

Above right: The results of smoking Fly 
Agaric are depicted in the German chil- 
dren’s book Meckiand the Dwarves. 

Below right: It is possible that Fly Agaric 
is identical to the Vedic wonder-drug 
Soma. Today Ephedra (Ephedra ger- 
ardiana) is called somalata, “soma 
plant.” In Nepal Ephedra is not halluci- 
nogenic or psychedelic but is a very 
Strong stimulant. 

converses with persons whom he imagi- 
nes he sees, sings and dances. Then an 
interval of rest sets in again.” 

The Fly Agaric was apparently em- 
ployed hallucinogenically in Mesoa- 
merica. It occurs naturally in highland 
areas in southern Mexico and Guatema- 
la. The Maya of highland Guatemala, 
for example, recognize Amanita mus - 
cana as having special properties, for 
they call it Kakulja-ikox (“lightning 
mushroom”), relating it to one of the 
gods, Raj aw Kakulja or Lord of Light- 
ning. It is this god who directs the oper- 
ating of chacs, dwarf rain-bringers now 
usually known by their Christian desig- 
nation, angelitos. The Quiche name of 
the Amanita muscaria, Kaqulja, refers 
to its legendary origin, whereas the term 
Itzelo-cox refers to its sacred power as 
"evil or diabolical mushroom.” Thun- 
der and lightning have widely and 
anciently been associated with mush- 
rooms, in both hemispheres, especially 
with Amanita muscaria. “In any event, 
the Quiche-Maya . . . are evidently well 
aware the Amanita muscaria is no 
ordinary mushroom but relates to the 

The first settlers of the Americas 
came from Asia, slowly crossing the 

region of the Bering Strait. Anthropol- 
ogists have found many Asia-related or 
remnant culture traits that persist in the 
Americas. Recent discoveries have un- 
covered vestiges of the magico-reli- 
gious importance of the Fly Agaric that 
have indeed survived in North Ameri- 
can cultures. Indications of undoubted 


hallucinogenic use of the Fly Agaric 
have been discovered among the Do- 
grib Athabascan peoples, who live on 
the Mackenzie Mountain range in 
northwestern Canada. Here Amanita 
muscana is employed as a sacrament in 
shamanism. A young neophyte repor- 
ted that whatever the shaman had done 

to him, “he had snatched me. I had no 
volition, I had no power of my own. I 
didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, I didn’t think — 
I wasn’t in my body any longer.” After 
a later seance, he wrote: “Cleansed and 
ripe for vision, I rise, a bursting ball of 
seeds in space ... I have sung the note 
that shatters structure. And the note 
that shatters chaos, and been bloody 
. . . I have been with the dead and at- 
tempted the labyrinth.” His first mush- 
room experience represented dismem- 
berment; his second, meeting with the 

More recently, the religious use of 
Amanita muscana as a sacred hallucino- 
gen has been discovered in an ancient an- 
nual ceremony practiced by the Ojibwa 
Indians or Ahnishinaubeg who live on 
Lake Superior in Michigan. The mush- 
room is known in the Ojibwa language 
as Oshtimisk Wajashkwedo (“Red-top 

Above right: The Spirit of the Fly Agaric 
in Japan is the long-nosed, red-faced 
Tengu. Whoever eats Beni-Tengu-Dake 
(Red Tengu mushroom) will encounter 
the lively entity. 

Below left: The myth of Soma still lives 
on. Here it is the name of a bar in a 
luxury hotel in Delhi, 


8 S2S?«— THE HEXING herbs 

l( |a hyoscyamusalbus 
^ Yellow Henbane 

~ ! Black Henbane 

^ Mandrake 

Above left: The yellow blossom of the 
rare variety of Atropa belladonna var. 
lutea. The yellow Deadly Nightshade 
is regarded as particularly potent for 
magic and witchcraft. 

■Above right: The bell-shaped flowers of 
the Deadly Nightshade clearly show its 
membership in the Nightshade family. 

Page 87 above left: The flowers of the 
Mandrake (Mandragora officinarum) 
are rarely seen, as they bloom very 
briefly and then quickly vanish. 

Page 87 above right: The flowers of the 
Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) 
have a characteristic coloring and an 
unforgettable pattern on the petals. In 
earlier times, it was thought to be the 
eye of the devil. 

Since antiquity several members of the 
Nightshade family have been asso- 
ciated with witchcraft in Europe. These 
plants enable witches to perform feats 
of occult wonder and prophecy, to hex 
through hallucinogenic communication 
with the supernatural and transport 
themselves to far-off places for the 
practice of their nefarious skills. These 
inebriating plants were mainly Hen- 
bane, Hyoscyamus albus and H. mger; 
Belladonna, Atropa belladonna; and 
Mandrake, Mandragora officinarum. 
All four species have long histories of 
use as hallucinogens and magic plants 
connected with sorcery, witchcraft, 
and superstition. The extraordinary re- 
putation of these plants is due primar- 
ily to the bizarre psychoactivity that 
they possess. Their similarity in effects 
is the result of similarity in chemical 

These four solanaceous plants contain 
relatively high concentrations of tropane 
alkaloids, primarily atropine, hyoscya- 
mme, and scopolamine; other bases are 
found in trace amounts. It is apparently 
scopolamine, not atropine or hyoscya- 
mine, that produces the hallucinogenic 
effects. It induces an intoxication fol- 

lowed by narcosis in which hallucina- 
tions occur during the transition state 
between consciousness and sleep. 

Atropine has served chemists as a 
model for the synthesis of several hallu- 
cinogenic compounds. Their effects — 
and those of scopolamine — differ from 
those of the usual natural hallucinogens: 
they are extremely toxic; and the user 
remembers nothing experienced during 
the intoxication, losing all sense of rea- 
lity and falling into a deep sleep like an 
alcoholic delirium. 

Hyoscyamus has been known and 
feared from earliest classical periods, 
when it was recognized that there were 
several kinds and that the black variety 
was the most potent, capable of causing 
insanity. The ancient Egyptians recor- 
ded their knowledge of Henbane in the 
Ebers Papyrus, written in 1500 b.C. 
Homer described magic drinks with ef- 
fects indicative of Henbane as a major 
ingredient. In ancient Greece it served 
as a poison, to mimic insanity, and to 
enable man to prophesy. It has been 
suggested that the priestesses at the 
Oracle of Delphi made their prophetic 
utterances while intoxicated with the 
smoke from Henbane seeds. In the 


The Chemistry of Deadly Nightshade, Henbane, and Mandrake 

Thfe three solanaceous plants Atropa, Hyoscyamus, and Mandragora contain 
the same active principles: primarily the alkaloids hyoscyamine, atropine, and 
scopolamine. The difference is only one of relative concentration. Belladonna 
contains little scopolamine, but this alkaloid is the main component of Man- 
drake and especially of Henbane. 

The alkaloids are found in the entire plant, with the highest concentration in 
the seeds and roots. The hallucinogenic effects are due essentially to scopo- 
lamine. Atropine and hyosyamine are less active under these circumstances. 

thirteenth century, Bishop Albcrtus the 
Great reported that Henbane was em- 
ployed by necromancers to conjure up 

From earliest times, the painkilling 
properties of Henbane have been recog- 
nized, and it has been employed to re- 
lieve the suffering of those sentenced to 
torture and death. Its great advantage 
lies in its ability not only to allay pain 
but also to induce a state of complete 

Henbane is best known as an ingredi- 
ent of the so-called “witch’s salve.” 

When young people were to be in- 
ducted into membership in groups dedi- 
cated to witchcraft, for example, they 
were often given a drink of Henbane so 
that they could easily be persuaded to 
engage in the sabbat rituals preparatory 
to the acceptance officially of a place in. 
witchcraft circles. 

Those experiencing intoxication with 
Henbane feel a pressure in the head, a 
sensation as if someone were closing the 
eyelids by force; sight becomes unclear, 
objects are distorted in shape, and the 
most unusual visual hallucinations are 
induced. Gustatory and olfactory hal- 
lucinations frequently accompany the 

Left: According to this illustration from 
the Juliana Codex, the Greek herbalist 
Dioscorides received the Mandrake 
plant from Heuresis, goddess of discov- 
ery, illustrating the belief that this medi- 
cine was a plant of the gods. 


“The Mandrake is the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ 
and the burning love ignited by its pleasure 
is the origin of the human race.” 

— Hugo Rahner 

Greek Myths in Christian Meaning (1957) 

/Above: The ancient goddess of witches, 
Hecate, lords over the psychoactive and 
magical herbs, particularly those in the 
Nightshade family. In this colored print 
by William Blake, she is depicted with 
her shamanic animals. 

Page 89 below right: The design for the 
cover of a book about medicinal plants 
depicts the anthropomorphic Mandrake. 

intoxication. Eventually sleep, disturbed 
by dreams and hallucinations, ends the 

Other species of Hyoscyamns have si- 
milar properties and are occasionally 
used in similar ways. Indian Henbane 
or Egyptian Henbane, or H. muticus, 
occurring from the deserts of Egypt east 
to Afghanistan and India, is employed 
in India as an intoxicant, the dried leaves 
being smoked. The Bedouins particu- 
larly employ this intoxicant to become 
drunk, and in some parts of Asia and 
Africa it is smoked with Cannabis as an 

Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade is 
native to Europe but is now sponta- 
neous as an escape from cultivation in 
the United States and India. Its generic 
name, Atropa, comes from the Greek 

Fate Atropos, the inflexible one who 
cuts the thread of life. The specific 
epithet, meaning “beautiful lady,” re- 
calls the use of sap of the plant to dilate 
the pupils of the eyes among the fine la- 
dies of Italy who believed that the drea- 
my, intoxicated stare thus produced was 
the height of fetching beauty. Many ver- 
nacular names of the plant refer to its 
intoxicating properties: Sorcerer’s Cher- 
ry, Witch’s Berry, Devil’s Herb, Mur- 
derer’s Berry, Dwaleberry ( dwale in 
English deriving from the Scandinavian 
root meaning “trance”). 

The maenads of the orgies of Diony- 
sus in Greek mythology dilated their 
eyes and threw themselves into the arms 
of male worshipers of this god or, with 
“flaming eyes,” they fell upon men to 
tear them apart and eat them. The wine 


of Bacchanals was possibly adulterated 
with juice of the Nightshade. Another 
belief from classical times maintained 
that Roman priests drank Belladonna 
before their supplications to the god- 
dess of war for victory. 

It was during the early Modern period, 
however, that Belladonna assumed its 
greatest importance in witchcraft and 
magic. It was one of the primary ingredi- 
ents of the brews and ointments em- 
ployed by witches and sorcerers. One 
such potent mixture, containing Bella- 
donna, Henbane, Mandrake, and the fat 
of a stillborn child, was rubbed over the 
skin or inserted into the vagina for ab- 
sorption. The familiar witch’s broom- 
stick goes far back in European magic 
beliefs. An investigation into witchcraft 
in 1324 reported that “in rifleing the 

Left: The magical conjuration of the 
Mandrake is a durable theme in Eur- 
opean literature and art history. Here 
is a scene from a modern comic, 

Below right: “Witches” persecuted 
during the Inquisition were often ac- 
cused of using hallucinogenic plants of 
the Nightshade family, in particular 
Henbane and Mandrake. For this 
many were tortured, murdered, and 


Top: Amphibians, especially frogs 
(which often produce poisons in their 
bodies), have always been connected 
with witchcraft and magic in the Old as 
well as the New World. These animals 
were occasionally added to potent 
witches’ brews in Europe. They have 
also figured significantly in certain New 
World cultures in connection with hallu- 
cinogenic activities. 

Above left: The delightfully scented fruit 
of the Mandrake (Mandragora officinar- 
um) are also called Apples of Love and 
are identical to the golden apples of 

Above middle: The ripe black berries of 
the Deadly Nightshade (Atropa bella- 

Above right: White or yellow Henbane 
(Hyoscyamus albus) was consecrated 
to the god of oracles, Apollo. 

closet of the ladle, they found a Pipe of 
ointment, wherewith she greased a 
staffe, upon which she ambled and gal- 
loped through thick and thin, when and 
in what manner she listed.” Later, in the 
fifteenth century, a similar account sta- 
ted: “But the vulgar believe and the 
witches confess, that on certain days 
and nights they anoint a staff and ride 
on it to the appointed place or anoint 
themselves under the arms and in other 
hairy places and sometimes carry charms 
under the hair.” Porta, a contemporary 
of Galileo, wrote in 1589 that under the 
effects of a potion of these solanaceous 
plants a “man would seem sometimes to 
be changed into a fish; and flinging out 
his arms, would swim on the ground; 
sometimes he would seem to skip up 
and then to dive down again. Another 
would believe himself turned into a 
goose and would eat grass, and beat the 
ground with his teeth like a goose; now 
and then sing and . . . clap his wings.” 
Mandrake became famous in magic 
and witchcraft because of its powerful 
narcotic effects and the bizarre form of 
its root. It would be difficult to find a 
better example of the application of the 
philosophy of the Doctrine of Signa- 

tures. For the root of this herbaceous 
perennial, unassuming in its growth ap- 
pearance, is so twisted and branched 
that it occasionally resembles the human 
body. This extraordinary resemblance 
led early to the belief that it exercised 
great supernatural powers over the hu- 
man body and mind, even though actu- 
ally its chemical composition gave it no 
greater psychoactivity than some other 
solanaceous species. 

From earliest times, curious beliefs 
about the need to exercise great care in 
harvesting the root grew up. Theo- 
phrastus in the third century b. C. wrote 
that collectors of medicinal plants drew 
circles around Mandrake, and they cut 
off the top part of the root while facing 
west; the remainder of the root was 
gathered after the collectors had per- 
formed certain dances and recited spe- 
cial formulas. Two centuries earlier, the 
Greek Pythagoras had described Man- 
drake root as an anthropomorph, or 
tiny human being. In Roman times that 
magic began extensively to be associ- 
ated with the psychoactive properties 
of the plant. In the first century a. d., 
Josephus Flavius wrote that there grew 
a plant in the Dead Sea area that glowed 


red at night and that it was difficult to 
approach the plant, which hid when a 
man drew near it; but it could be tamed 
if urine and menstrual blood were 
sprinkled on it. It was physically dan- 
gerous to pull the plant from the earth, 
but a dog, tied to the root, was em- 
ployed to extract the root, after which, 
according to belief, the animal usually 
died. The myths surrounding Mandrake 
grew, until it was said that the plant hid 
by day but shone like a star at night, and 
that when being pulled from the ground 
the plant let out such unearthly shrieks 
that whoever heard the noise might die. 
Eventually, only black dogs — a color 
denoting evil and death — were em- 
ployed. Early Christians believed that 
the Mandrake root was originally cre- 

ated by God as an experiment before 
he created man in the Garden of Eden. 

When, later in the Dark Ages, Man- 
drake began to be cultivated in central 
Europe, it was thought that the plant 
would grow only under gallows where 
urine or semen from the condemned 
man fell — hence the common German 
names meaning “gallows man” and 
“dragon doll,” 

The apogee of Mandrake’s fame seems 
to have occurred in the late sixteenth 
century. At this time, the herbalists be- 
gan to doubt many of the tales associated 
with the plant. As early as 1526 the Eng- 
lish herbalist Turner had denied that all 
Mandrake roots had a human form and 
protested against the beliefs connected 
with its anthropomorphism. Another 
English herbalist, Gerard, for example, 
wrote in 1597: “All which dreams and 
old wives tales you shall henceforth cast 
out of your books and memory; know- 
ing this, that they are all and everie part 
of them false and most untrue. For I my 
selfe and my servants also have digged 
up, planted and replanted very many 
. . .’’But many superstitions surrounding 
Mandrake persisted in European foil- 
lore even into the nineteenth century. 

Above left: In the Temple of Apollo at 
Delphi, the “navel of the world,” the Sibyl 
and prophetess informed the Pythia of 
her oracle after she had inhaled the 
smoke of Henbane. 

Above middle: The root of the Mandrake 
(Mandragora officinarum). 

Above right: The Ginseng’s (Panax gin- 
seng) root is not only similar to the 
Mandrake, but in Korea, Ginseng root is 
also attributed with secret and magical 

Be/ow/eff.-Thesun and oracle god 
Apollo at a libation in front of a raven. 
(Discovered at Delphi). 





Tradition m India maintains that the 
gods sent man the Hemp plant so that 
he might attain delight and courage, 
and have heightened sexual desires. 
When nectar or Amrita dropped down 
trom heaven. Cannabis sprouted from 
it. Another story tells how, when the 
gods, helped by demons, churned the 
milk ocean to obtain Amrita, one of the 
resulting nectars was Cannabis. It was 
consecrated to Shiva and was Indra’s fa- 
vorite drink. After the churning of the 

“seeds,” consumed by man for food; 
for its narcotic properties; and thera- 
peutically to treat a wide spectrum of 
ills in folk medicine and m modern 

Mainly because of its various uses, 
Cannabis has been taken to many re- 
gions around the world. Unusual things 
happen to plants after long association 
with man and agriculture. They are 
grown in new and strange environ- 
ments and often have opportunities to 

Above left: Wild I lump plants (Cannabis 
indica) with splendid white flowers in 
the Langtang region of the Himalayas 

Above right: Masculine plant of a Hemp 
cross-breed (Cannabis indica x sativa). 

ocean, demons attempted to gain con- 
trol of Amrita, but the gods were able 
to prevent this seizure, giving Cannabis 
the name Vijaya (“victory”) to com- 
memorate their success. Ever since, this 
plant of the gods has been held in India 
to bestow supernatural powers on its 

The partnership of Cannabis and man 
has existed now probably for ten thou- 
sand years — since the discovery of agri- 
culture in the Old World. One of our 
oldest cultivars. Cannabis has been a 
five-purpose plant: as a source of hem- 
pen fibers; for its oil; for its akenes or 

hybridize that are not offered in their 
native habitats. They escape from culti- 
vation and frequently become aggres- 
sive weeds. They may be changed 
through human selection for character- 
istics associated with a specific use. 
Many cultivated plants are so changed 
from their ancestral types that it is not 
possible to unravel their evolutionary 
history. Such is not the case, however, 
with Cannabis. Yet despite its long his- 
tory as a major crop plant, Cannabis is 
still characterized more by what is not 
known about its biology than by what 
is known. 


Below left: The blue-skinned Hindu god Shiva takes great pleasure in Hemp. 
Because of this, it is a sacred plant of the gods and is used for rituals and 
Tantric practices. 

Right: The long-haired Sadhus or “holy men” of India devote their lives to the 
god Shiva. They have no property and practice yoga and meditation. In ad- 
dition they often smoke a large amount of charas (handmade hash) and 
ganja (Marijuana) sometimes mixed with Datura leaves and other psychoac- 

tive plants (Sadhu at a Shiva temple, Pashupatinath, Kathmandu Valley, 

Bottom right: Cannabis is consumed in many countries, usually illegally. It is 
often smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes. There are countless products for the 
consumption of marijuana for everyone from beginners to the specialists— for 
instance, large-format rolling papers, preferably out of Hemp. Also shown here 
are a metal cigarette box and lighter. 

The botanical classification of Canna- 
bis has long been uncertain. Botanists 
have not agreed on the family to which 
Cannabis belongs: early investigators 
put it in the Nettle family (Urticaceae); 
later it was accommodated in the Fig fa- 
mily (Moraceae); the general trend today 
is to assign it to a special family, Canna- 
baceae, in which only Cannabis and Ha- 
mulus, the genus of Hops, are members. 
There has even been disagreement as to 
how many species of Cannabis exist: 

whether the genus comprises one highly 
variable species or several distinct spe- 
cies. Evidence now strongly indicates 
that three species can be recognized: 
C. indica, C. ruderalis, and C. sativa. 
These species are distinguished by dif- 
ferent growth habits, characters of the 
akenes, and especially by major differ- 
ences in structure of the wood. Although 
all species possess cannabinols, there 
may possibly be significant chemical dif- 
ferences, but the evidence is not yet 

The Indian vedas sang of Cannabis as 
one of the divine nectars, able to give 




Above: In Africa Hemp is smoked for 
medicinal and pleasurable purposes, as 
this wood carving shows. 

Top: The characteristic Hemp leaf 
(Cannabis indica) was formerly a sym- 
bol of the subculture and rebellion. To- 
day, it has become a symbol of ecologi- 
cal awareness. 

man anything from good health and 
long life to visions of the gods. The 
Zend-Avesta of 600 b. c. mentions an in- 
toxicating resin, and the Assyrians used 
Cannabis as an incense as early as the 
ninth century b. C. 

Inscriptions from the Chou dynasty 
in China, dated 700-500 b.c., have a 
“negative” connotation that accompa- 
nies the ancient character for Cannabis, 
Ma, implying its stupefying properties. 
Since this idea obviously predated writ- 
ing, the Pen Tsao Ching, written in A. D. 
100 but going back to a legendary em- 
peror, Shen-Nung, 2000 b. c., maybe ta- 
ken as evidence that the Chinese knew 
and probably used the psychoactive 
properties at very early dates. It was 
said that Ma-fen (“Hemp fruit”) “if ta- 
ken to excess, will produce hallucina- 
tions [literally, “seeing devils”]. If taken 
over a long term, it makes one commu- 
nicate with spirits and lightens one’s 

body.” A Taoist priest wrote in the fifth 
century b.c. that Cannabis was em- 
ployed by “necromancers, in combina- 
tion with Ginseng, to set forward time 
and reveal future events.” In these early 
periods, use of Cannabis as a hallucino- 
gen was undoubtedly associated with 
Chinese shamanism, but by the time of 
European contact 1,500 years later, sha- 
manism had fallen into decline, and the 
use of the plant for inebriation seems to 
have ceased and been forgotten. Its 
value in China then was primarily as a 
fiber source. There was, however, a con- 
tinuous record of Hemp cultivation in 
China from Neolithic times, and it has 
been suggested that Cannabis may have 
originated in China, not in central Asia. 

About 500 b. c. the Greek writer Her- 
odotus described a marvelous steam 
bath of the Scythians, aggressive horse- 
men who swept out of the Trans- 
caucasus eastward and westward. He 


reported that “they make a booth by 
fixing in the ground three sticks inclined 
toward one another, and stretching 
around them woollen pelts which they 
arrange so as to fit as close as possible: 
inside the booth a dish is placed upon 
the ground into which they put a num- 
ber of red hot stones and then add some 
Hemp seed . . . immediately it smokes 
and gives out such a vapor as no Grecian 
vapor bath can exceed; the Scyths, de- 
lighted, shout for joy . . Only recent- 
ly, archaeologists have excavated frozen 
Scythian tombs in central Asia, dated 
between 500 and 300 B.C., and have 
found tripods and pelts, braziers, and 
charcoal with remains of Cannabis 
leaves and fruit. It has generally been 
accepted that Cannabis originated in 
central Asia and that it was the 
Scythians who spread the plant west- 
ward to Europe. 

While the Greeks and Romans may 
not generally have taken Cannabis for 
inebriation, they were aware of the psy- 
choactive effects of the drug. Democri- 
tus reported that it was occasionally 
drunk with wine and myrrh to produce 
visionary states, and Galen, about a. d. 
200, wrote that it was sometimes cus- 
tomary to give Hemp to guests to pro- 
mote hilarity and enjoyment. 

Cannabis arrived in Europe from the 
north. The Roman writer Lucilius men- 
tioned it in 120 B. C. Pliny the Elder out- 
lined the preparation and grades of 
hempen fibers in the first century A. D., 
and hempen rope was found in a Roman 
site in England dated a. d. 140-180. 
Whether or not the Vikings used Hemp 
rope is not known, but palynological 
evidence indicates that Hemp cultiva- 
tion had a tremendous increment in 
England from the early Anglo-Saxon 
period to late Saxon and Norman 
times — from 400 to 1100. 

Henry VIII fostered the cultivation 
of Hemp in England. The maritime su- 
premacy of England during Elizabethan 
times greatly increased the demand. 
Hemp cultivation began in the British 
colonies in the New World: first in Ca- 
nada in 1606, then in Virginia in 1611; 
the Pilgrims took the crop to New Eng- 

land in 1632. In pre-Revolutionary 
North America, Hemp was employed 
even for making work clothes. 

Hemp was introduced quite indepen- 
dently into Spanish colonies in South 
America: Chile, 1545; Peru, 1554. 

There is no doubt that hempen fiber 
production represents an early use of 
Cannabis, but perhaps consumption of 
its edible akenes as food predated the 
discovery of the useful fiber. These 
akenes are very nutritious, and it is dif- 
ficult to imagine that early man, con- 
stantly searching for food, would have 
missed this opportunity. Archaeological 
finds of Hemp akenes in Germany, da- 
ted at 500 B. c., indicate the nutritional 
use of these plant products. From early 
times to the present. Hemp akenes have 
been used as food in eastern Europe, 
and in the United States as a major in- 
gredient of bird food. 

The folk-medicinal value of Hemp' — 
frequently indistinguishable from its 
psychoactive properties — may even be 
its earliest role as an economic plant. 
The earliest record of the medicinal use 
of the plant is that of the Chinese em- 
peror-herbalist Shen-Nung who, five 
thousand years ago, recommended 
Cannabis for malaria, beri-beri, consti- 
pation, rheumatic pains, absent-mind- 
edness, and female disorders. Hoa-Glio, 
another ancient Chinese herbalist, re- 
commended a mixture of Hemp resin 
and wine as an analgesic during surgery. 

It was in ancient India that this “gift 
of the gods” found excessive use in folk 
medicine. It was believed to quicken 
the mind, prolong life, improve judg- 
ment, lower fevers, induce sleep, cure 
dysentery. Because of its psychoactive 
properties it was more highly valued 
than medicines with only physical ac- 
tivity. Several systems of Indian medi- 
cine esteemed Cannabis. The medical 
work Sushrata states that it cured le- 
prosy. The Bharaprakasha, of about 
a. D. 1600, described it as antiphleg- 
matic, digestive, bile affecting, pungent, 
and astringent, prescribing it to stimu- 
late the appetite, improve digestion, and 
better the voice. The spectrum of med- 
icinal uses in India covered control of 

Top: Feminine flower of industrial Hemp 
(Cannabis sativa). 

Above . -The Chinese emperor Shen- 
Nung is said to have discovered the 
medicinal properties of many plants. His 
pharmacopoeia, believed to have been 
first compiled in 2737 b. c., notes that 
Cannabis sativa has both male and fe- 
male plants. 


Right: There are countless strains of Hemp that contain barely any THC, the 
intoxicating and euphoric constituent. These species are used in the produc- 
tion of fiber, but are not suited for personal consumption, as the warning sign 
in the botanical gardens in Bern, Switzerland, states: "This industrial Hemp is 
useless for the production of drugs because of its lack of active properties.” 

Bottom: Feminine plants of flowering industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa). 

1 ’ 


- — ■ — r 

uiestt rase r hanf 


tst wegeniseines.' genngen 
WiLkstoffgehaltes. ■ 
fiiir une Drogenhersreilung 





dandruff and relief of headache, mania, 
insomnia, venereal disease, whooping 
cough, earache, and tuberculosis! 

The fame of Cannabis as a medicine 
spread with the plant. In parts of Africa, 
it was valued in treating dysentery, ma- 
laria, anthrax, and fevers. Even today 
the Hottentots and Mfengu claim its ef- 
ficacy in treating snakebites, and Sotho 
women induce partial stupefaction by 
smoking Hemp before childbirth. 

Cannabis was highly valued in medi- 
cine, and its therapeutic uses can be 
traced back to early classical physicians 
Dioscorides and Galen. Medieval herb- 
alists distinguished “manured hempe” 
(cultivated) from “bastard hempe” 
(weedy), recommending the latter 
“against nodes and wennes and other 
hard tumors,” the former for a host of 
uses from curing cough to jaundice. 
They cautioned, however, that in excess 
it might cause sterility, that “it drieth up 
. . . the seeds of generation” in men “and 
the milke of women’s breasts.” An inter- 
esting use in the sixteenth century — 
source of the name Angler’s Weed in 
England — was locally important: “pou- 
red into the holes of earthwormes [it] 
will draw them forth and . . , fishermen 
and anglers have used this feate to baite 
their hooks.” 

The value of Cannabis in folk medi- 
cine has clearly been closely tied with 
its euphoric and psychoactive proper- 
ties; knowledge of these effects may be 
as old as its use as a source of fiber. 
Primitive man, trying all sorts of plant 


Top left: In northern India the Hemp 
leaves are soaked in water, shredded 
and then rolled into balls. These are 
sold as “Bhang" on the market (display 
in the Governmental Ganja Shop Om 
Varnasi, Benares). 

materials as food, must have known the 
ecstatic euphoria-inducing effects of 
Hemp, an intoxication introducing him 
to an otherworldly plane leading to re- 
ligious beliefs. Thus the plant early was 
viewed as a special gift of the gods, a 
sacred medium for communion with 
the spirit world. 

Although Cannabis today is the most 
widely employed psychoactive sub- 
stance, its use purely as a narcotic, ex- 
cept in Asia, appears not to be ancient. 
In classical times its euphoric properties 
were, however, recognized. In Thebes, 
Hemp was made into a drink said to 
have opium-like properties. Galen re- 
ported that cakes with Hemp, if eaten 
to excess, were intoxicating. The use as 
an inebriant seems to have been spread 
east and west by barbarian hordes of 
central Asia, especially the Scythians, 
who had a profound cultural influence 
on early Greece and eastern Europe. 
And knowledge of the psychoactive ef- 
fects of Hemp goes far back in Indian 
history, as indicated by the deep mytho- 
logical and spiritual beliefs about the 
plant. One preparation, Bhang, was so 
sacred that it was thought to deter evil, 
bring luck, and cleanse man of sin. 
Those treading upon the leaves of this 
holy plant would suffer harm or disas- 
ter, and sacred oaths were sealed over 
Hemp. The favorite drink of Indra, 
god of the firmament, was made from 
Cannabis, and the Hindu god Shiva 
commanded that the word Ghangi be 
chanted repeatedly in hymns during 

sowing, weeding, and harvesting of 
the holy plant. Knowledge and use of 
the intoxicating properties eventually 
spread to Asia Minor. Hemp was em- 
ployed as an incense in Assyria in the 
first millennium B.C., suggesting its use 
as an inebriant. While there is no direct 
mention of Hemp in the Bible, several 
obscure passages may refer tangentially 
to the effects of Cannabis resin or 

It is perhaps in the Himalayas of In- 
dia and the Tibetan plateau that Canna- 
bis preparations assumed their greatest 
importance in religious contexts. Bhang 
is a mild preparation: dried leaves or 
flowering shoots are pounded with 
spices into a paste and consumed as 
candy — known as maa-jun — or in tea 
form. Ganja is made from the resin-rich 
dried pistillate flowering tops of culti- 
vated plants that are pressed into a 
compacted mass and kept under pres- 
sure for several days to induce chemical 
changes; most Ganja is smoked, often 
with Tobacco or Datura. Charas con- 
sists of the resin itself, a brownish mass 
that is employed generally in smoking 

The Tibetans considered Cannabis 
sacred. A Mahayana Buddhist tradition 
maintains that during the six steps of as- 
ceticism leading to his enlightenment, 
Buddha lived on one Hemp seed a day. 
He is often depicted with “Soma leaves” 
in his begging bowl and the mysterious 
god-narcotic Soma has occasionally 
been identified with Hemp. In Tantric 

Top right : The Bhang balls are either 
sucked on or mixed into a drink with 
milk, yogurt, and water. 

Page 97 above left: The Cora Indians of 
the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico 
smoke Cannabis in the course of their 
sacred ceremonies. Rarely is an intro- 
duced foreign plant adopted and used in 
indigenous religious ceremonies, but it 
seems that the Cora of Mexico and the 
Cuna of Panama have taken up the ri- 
tual smoking of Cannabis, notwith- 
standing the fact that, in both areas, it 
was brought in by the early Europeans. 

Page 97 above right: These three 
photographs show the germinating 
Hemp plant. The rounded leaves are 
cotyledons or seed-leaves. The first real 
leaves are always simple, not segmen- 
ted as are the mature leaves. 

Page 96 middle (4 Photos): The use of 
Cannabis by peoples of both the Old 
World and the New is widespread. In the 
Old World (left to right) Cannabis is 
being smoked by a Kung woman from 
South Africa, a Pygmy from the Congo, 
a traveler in Kashmir, and North African 
Hashish smokers. 


The Chemistry of Marijuana 

Whereas the psychoactive principles of most hallucinogenic plants are alka- 
loids, the active constituents of Cannabis are non-nitrogenous and occur in a 
resinous oil. The psychoactive properties are due to cannabinoids, of which 
the most effective is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC — chemically: (-) A 1 -3,4- 
transtetrahydrocannabinol. The highest concentration is found in the resin of 
the unfertilized pistillate inflorescence. Even though less potent, the dried 
leaves are also employed for their psychoactive effects. 

Following the elucidation of the chemical structure (see molecular model 
on page 184), it has recently been possible to synthesize THC. 

Psychoactive Plants that are used as a Marijuana Substitute 

Botanical Name 

Common Name 

Part of Plant Used 

Alchornea floribunda 



Argemone mexicana 

Prickly Poppy 


Artemisia mexicana 

Mexican Mugwort 


Calea zacatechichi 

Dog Grass 


Canavalia maritima 

Sea Bean 


Catharanthus roseus 

Madagascar Periwinkle 


Cecropia mexicana 



Oestrum laevigatum 

Lady of the Night 


Oestrum parqui 



Cymbopogon densiflorus 


Flower extract 

Helichrysum foetidum 



Helichrysum stenopterum 



Hieracium pilocella 



Leonotis leonurus 

Wild Dagga 


Leonurus sibiricus 

Siberian Motherwort 


Nepeta cataria 



Piper auritum 

Root Beer Plant 


Sceletium tortuosum 


Herbage, Roots 

Sida acuta 

Common Wireweed 


Sida rhombifolia 



Turnera diffusa 



Zornia diphylla 

Maconha Brava 


Zornia latifolia 

Maconha Brava 

Dried leaves 

Buddhism of the Himalayas of Tibet, 
Cannabis plays a very significant role 
in the meditative ritual used to facilitate 
deep meditation and heighten aware- 
ness. Both medicinal and recreational 
secular use of Hemp is likewise so 
common now in this region that the 
plant is taken for granted as an every- 
day necessity. 

Folklore maintains that the use of 
Hemp was introduced to Persia by an 
Indian pilgrim during the reign of 
Khursu (a. d. 531-579), but it is known 
that the Assyrians used Hemp as an in- 
cense during the first millennium B.c. 
Although at first prohibited among Isla- 
mic peoples, Hashish spread widely 
west throughout Asia Minor. In 1378, 
authorities tried to extirpate Hemp 
from Arabian territory by the imposi- 
tion of harsh punishments. 

Cannabis extended early and widely 
from Asia Minor into Africa, partly 
under the pressure of Islamic influ- 
ence, but the use of Hemp transcends 
Islamic areas. It is widely believed that 
Hemp was introduced also with slaves 
from Malaya. Commonly known in 
Africa as Kif or Dagga, the plant has 


“Hemp is the ‘giver of joy,’ ‘heaven’s pilot,’ ‘the heavenly guide,’ 
‘the heaven of the poor man,’ ‘the soother of sorrows.’ 

No god, no man is as good as the religious hemp drinker.” 

— Hemp Drug 
Commission Report (1884) 


entered into archaic native cultures in 
social and religious contexts. The Hot- 
tentots, Bushmen, and Kaffirs used 
Hemp for centuries as a medicine and 
as an intoxicant. In an ancient tribal 
ceremony in the Zambesi Valley, parti- 
cipants inhaled vapors from a pile of 
smoldering Hemp; later, reed tubes 
and pipes were employed, and the 
plant material was burned on an altar. 
The Kasai tribes of the Congo have 
revived an old Riamba cult in which 
Hemp, replacing ancient fetishes and 
symbols, was elevated to a god— a 
protector against physical and spiritual 
harm. Treaties are sealed with puffs of 
smoke from calabash pipes. Hemp- 
smoking and Hashish-snuffing cults 
exist in many parts of east Africa, 
especially near Lake Victoria. 

Hemp has spread to many areas of the 
New World, but with few exceptions 
the plant has not penetrated signifi- 
cantly into many Native American reli- 
gious beliefs and ceremonies. There are, 
however, exceptions, such as its use 
under the name Rosa Maria, by the Te- 
pecano Indians of northwest Mexico, 
who occasionally employ Hemp when 

Peyote is not available. It has recently 
been learned that Indians in the Mexi- 
can states of Veracruz, Hidalgo, and 
Puebla practice a communal curing ce- 
remony with a plant called Santa Rosa, 
identified as Cannabis sativa, which is 
considered both a plant and a sacred in- 
tercessor with the Virgin. Although the 
ceremony is based mainly on Christian 
elements, the plant is worshiped as an 
Earth deity and is thought to be alive 
and to represent a part of the heart of 
God. The participants in this cult be- 
lieve that the plant can be dangerous 
and that it can assume the form of a 
man’s soul, make him ill, enrage him, 
and even cause death. 

Sixty years ago, when Mexican la- 
borers introduced the smoking of Mar- 
ijuana to the United States, it spread 
across the South, and by the 1920s its 
use was established in New Orleans, 
confined primarily among the poor and 
minority groups. The continued spread 
of the custom in the United States and 
Europe has resulted in a still unresolved 

Cannabis sativa was officially in the 
U.S. Pharmacopoeia until 1937, recom- 

Scanning Electron Microscopy 

Above left: In C. sativa, well-developed 
hairs of glandular and non-glandular 
kinds are shown in various stages of 

Top right: Different types of glandular 
hairs of Cannabis. The capitate gland 
with a prominent pseudo-stalk on the 
surface of the anther wall that faces the 
center of the flower. 

Bottom right: Bulbous gland from adax- 
ial leaf surface. The stalk and head are 
made up of two cells each. The tip of the 
gland possesses a small, disk-shaped 
region below which resin accumulates 
in the extended membrane. 

Page 98: Above, Cannabis sativa is 
being harvested for Hemp at the turn 
of the century. This species attains a 
height of 18 feet (6m). Below, an extre- 
mely potent Hashish is produced from 
Cannabis indica, a low, pyramidal, 
densely branched species, as shown 
above growing wild near Kandahar, 


Top: Drawing by W. Miller. Copyright 
1978 The New Yorker Magazine, Inc. 
“Hey, what is this stuff? it makes every- 
thing I think seem profound.” 

Below: Gustave Dore’s painting “Com- 
position of the Death of Gerard de Ner- 
val,” for which he may have used Can- 
nabis and Opium for inspiration. The 
contemporary American cartoon shows 
in a humorous way the resurrection of 
this belief. 


Above: Marijuana is made from the 
dried and slightly fermented blossoms 
of the feminine Hemp plant. 

Left: In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonder- 
land, the encounter between Alice and 
the languorous caterpillar is as follows: 
“She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and 
peeped over the edge of the mushroom, 
and her eyes immediately met those of 
a large blue caterpillar that was sitting 
on the top, with its arms folded, quietly 
smoking a long hookah, and taking not 
the slightest notice of her or anything 

mended for a wide variety of disorders, 
especially as a mild sedative. It is no 
longer an official drug, although re- 
search in the medical potential of some 
of the cannabinolic constituents or their 
semi-synthetic analogs is at present very 
active, particularly in relation to the side 
effects of cancer therapy. 

The psychoactive effects of Cannabis 
preparations vary widely, depending on 
dosage, the preparation and the type of 
plant used, the method of administra- 
tion, the personality of the user, and 
the social and cultural background. 
Perhaps the most frequent characteris- 
tic is a dreamy state. Long forgotten 
events are often recalled and thoughts 
occur in unrelated sequences. Percep- 
tion of time, and occasionally of space, 
is altered. Visual and auditory halluci- 
nations sometimes follow the use of 
large doses. Euphoria, excitement, in- 
ner happiness — often with hilarity and 
laughter — are typical. In some cases, a 
final mood of depression may be ex- 

“This marvelous experience often 
occurs as if it were the effect of a 
superior and invisible power acting 
on the person from without . . . 
This delightful and singular state . . . 
gives no advance warning. 

It is as unexpected as a ghost, 
an intermittent haunting 
from which we must draw, 
if we are wise, 

the certainly of a better existence. 

This acuteness of thought, 
this enthusiasm of the senses and 
the spirit must have appeared to 
man through the ages 
as the first blessing.” 

— Charles Baudelaire 
Les Paradis Artificiels 

Above: In the nineteenth century, a se- 
lect group of European artists and wri- 
ters turned to psychoactive agents in an 
attempt to achieve what has come to be 
regarded as “mind-expansion” or “mind- 
alteration.” Many people, such as the 
French poet Baudelaire (below), be- 
lieved that creative ability could be 
greatly enhanced by the use of Canna- 
bis. In fact, Baudelaire wrote vivid de- 
scriptions of his personal experiences 
under the influence of Cannabis. 




Above: While Ergot infects a number of 
different grasses, it is best known as a 
parasite on the inflorescence of rye. 

Page 103 top: The Ergot of rye are con- 
siderably bigger than those of the Pas- 
palum grass. 

Page 103 left: Fruiting bodies of Clavi- 
ceps purpurea. The specific name of 
this fungus means “purple,” a color that 
in antiquity was linked with powers of 
the underworld. 

Page 103 right: When grain is infected 
by Ergot, long black growths appear on 
the heads, called sclerotium. 

“The ancient testimony about Eleusis is 
unanimous and unambiguous. Eleusis 
was the supreme experience in an initia- 
te’s life. It was both physical and mysti- 
cal: trembling, vertigo, cold sweat, and 
then a sight that made all previous see- 
ing seem like blindness, a sense of awe 
and wonder at a brilliance that caused a 
profound silence, since what had just 
been seen and felt could never be com- 
municated; words were unequal to the 
task. These symptoms are unmistakably 
the experience induced by a hallucino- 
gen. Greeks, and indeed some of the 
most famous and intelligent among 
them, could experience and enter fully 
into, such irrationality. . . 

“Eleusis was different from the con- 
vivial inebriation of friends ... In their 
various ways, other Greek cults too 
enacted aspects of the ancient commu- 
nion practiced between gods and men, 
between the living and the dead, but it 
was at Eleusis alone that the experi- 
ence occurred with overwhelming fin- 
ality . . . 

“For close on to two thousand years, 
a few of the ancient Greeks passed 
each year through the portals of Eleu- 
sis. There they celebrated the divine 
gift to mankind of the cultivated grain, 
and they were also initiated into the 
awesome powers of the nether world 
through the purple dark of the grain’s 
sibling . . .” 

Thus in an interdisciplinary study 
based on three different approaches, 
ethnomycology, classical studies, and 
chemistry, the secret rites of ancient 
Greece, which have remained a puzzle 
for four thousand years, are associated 
with intoxication caused by the fungus 
Claviceps, which grows parasitically on 
certain cereals. 

It is now believed that the intoxicant 
underlying the ecstasy experienced in 
the mysteries was induced by Claviceps 
paspali, and possibly other species, 
growing on various Loliums and other 
cereal grasses native to Greece. The bio- 
dynamical principles characteristic of 
the well-known Ergot, or Claviceps pur- 
purea, have been isolated from some of 
the other species of this fungal parasite. 

The reasons for considering the Eleusian 
mysteries to be associated with the use 
of Claviceps are long and complex, but 
the arguments are most convincing and 
apparently from several disciplines 
sound. Basically, it has now been shown 
that several species of Claviceps can in- 
fect a number of wild grasses in Greece. 

By far the most important species of 
Claviceps is C. purpurea, the Ergot of 
rye (Secale cereale). This hard, brown 
or purplish black sclerotium of a fungus 
originating in the caryopsis of rye is 
exceedingly common in Europe. The 
native nomenclature of Claviceps pur- 
purea is indeed complex. Ergot, the 
French word for “spur” of a cock, now 
generally employed in numerous lan- 
guages, was first applied to the fungus 
in a region not far from Paris. There 
are, however, two dozen other words 
for the sclerotium in French; sixty-two 
vernacular names in German, Mutter- 
korn being the most commonly used. 
There are twenty-one in Dutch, fifteen 
in the Scandinavian languages, fourteen 
in Italian, and seven in English in addi- 
tion to the borrowed word Ergot. This 
proliferation of vernacular terminology 
indicates the importance of the fungus 
in European countries. 

Although its medicinal use was un- 
known in classical times, it was early re- 
cognized as a poison. As far back as 600 
B.c., the Assyrians called the spurlike 
growth or Ergot a “noxious pustule in 
the ear of the grain.” The sacred books 
of the Parsees (about 350 B. c.) reported: 
“Among the evil things created by An- 
gro Maynes are noxious grasses that 
cause pregnant women to drop the 
womb and die in childbed.” Although 
the ancient Greeks apparently em- 
ployed the fungus in their religious ri- 
tuals, they did not eat rye because of 
the “black malodorous produce of 
Thrace and Macedonia.” Rye was not 
introduced into classical Europe until 
the beginning of the Christian era, so 
Ergot poisoning did not enter into Ro- 
man pharmaceutical literature. 

The earliest undoubted reports of Er- 
got poisoning appeared during the Mid- 
dle Ages, when bizarre epidemics broke 


out in various parts of Europe, taking 
thousands of lives and causing untold 
agony and suffering. These epidemics 
manifested themselves in two forms: 
those with nervous convulsions and epi- 
leptic symptoms; those with gangrene, 
mummifications, atrophy, and occa- 
sional loss of extremities — noses, ear- 
lobes, fingers, toes, and feet. Delirium 

and hallucinations were common symp- 
toms of the intoxication, which was fre- 
quently fatal. An early European visita- 
tion of ergotism described it as “a great 
plague of swollen blisters [that] con- 
sumed the people by a loathsome rot.” 
Abortions of women were general dur- 
ing these attacks. The “Holy Fire” was 
always characterized by a feeling of 
burning in the feet and hands. 

St. Anthony, after whom the “fire” 
was named, lived as a religious hermit 
in Egypt; he died at the age of 105 in 
a. D. 356. He is the protecting saint 
against fire, epilepsy, and infection. 
During the Crusades, the knights 
brought back his remains to Dauphine, 
in France, for burial. It was here in Dau- 
phine that the earliest recognized plague 
of “Holy Fire” occurred in 1039. A 
wealthy citizen, Gaston, and his son 
were among the afflicted, and Gaston 

The Chemistry of Ergot 

The active ingredients in Ergot are indole alkaloids, all derived from the same 
basic compound, lysergic acid. The most important alkaloids in Ergot of rye 
are ergotamine and ergotoxine, in which lysergic acid is connected with a 
peptide radical consisting of three amino acids. These alkaloids and their 
derivatives have various medicinal uses. 

In toxic doses they cause gangrene because of their vasoconstricting 
properties. Ergot from wild grasses, however, contains essentially simple 
lysergic acid amides, ergine, and lysergic acid-hydroxyethylamide (found 
only in traces in Ergot of rye). These psychotropic alkaloids may have played 
a role in the convulsive form of ergotism. They occur as the main active 
principles in the Mexican Morning Glory Ololiuqui (Turbina corymbosa) [see 
page 187 for the molecular model of the chemical structure] and other Bind- 
weeds (ipomoea violacea, Argyreia nervosa). 


'‘U'i'i'e left: The goddess Demeter with 
sheaves of grain and opium pods in her 

''ve right: The Plutoniuon of Eleusis. 

Pa !Jv 1 05 bottom: One of the rare out- 
breaks of ergotism in England attacked 
on e family in Wattisham in 1762. So 
unusual was this plague that it has been 
nationalized with a plaque in the parish 

promised to give all his wealth to aid 
other victims if St. Anthony would cure 
him and his son. Thus it was that in this 
French town a hospital to care for suf- 
ferers was founded and the Order of St. 
Anthony was also established. 

A pilgrimage to shrines consecrated 
to St. Anthony was believed to cure 
the disease. But a change in diet — bread 
free of Ergot — may have had a benefi- 
cial effect. It was not until 1676 — some 
five hundred years after the height of St. 
Anthony’s fire — that the real cause of 
ergotism was discovered, whereupon 
measures of control were set up. Millers 
in the Middle Ages frequently kept 
clean rye flour for the affluent, selling 
flour made from “spurred rye” — that 
infected with Ergot- — to poorer custo- 
mers. Once the cause was known, vigi- 
lance in the mills quickly reduced the 
epidemics of St. Anthony’s fire. 

Even today, however, there are occa- 
sional outbreaks of epidemics in which 
whole villages are affected. The most 
notorious recent attacks have occurred 
in France and Belgium in 1953 and in 
the Ukraine and Ireland in 1929. There 
are suggestions that the alleged out- 
breaks of witchcraft in colonial New 
England, especially in Salem, Massachu- 

setts, may have been due to Ergot poi- 

European midwives had long known 
that Ergot could aid in cases of difficult 
childbirth and had used the fungus for 
that purpose. Chemicals isolated from 
Ergot are still official drugs to induce 
contraction of involuntary muscles in 
stubborn childbirth. The earliest medi- 
cal report of the obstetric value of Ergot 
was published in 1582 by Lonicer of 
Frankfurt, who stated that Ergot- 
parasitized rye is of sovereign efficiency 
in pregnancy pains. Although widely 
employed by midwives, Ergot was first 
employed by a physician when Des- 
granges of Lyons experimented with it 
and published his observations in 1818. 
The Swiss botanist Bauhin described 
Ergot in 1595, and his son later pro- 
duced the first illustration of Ergot in 
1658. In 1676, the French physician- 
botanist Dodart added much scientific 
knowledge to the story of Ergot. He ad- 
vised the French Academy that the only 
way to control plagues of ergotism was 
to sift the rye to extract the Ergot spores 
from it. But even as late as 1750, bota- 
nists still were uncertain how Ergot 
grew and why it was toxic. In 1711 and 
again in 1761, learned botanists accepted 




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the view that the black spur was formed 
by the germinating embryo, which cau- 
sed a hypertrophied growth in place of 
a normal caryopsis. Only in 1764 did 
the German botanist von Miinchhausen 
declare that Ergot was a fungal infec- 
tion, but his opinion was not accepted 
until the famous botanist A. P. de Can- 
dolle proved it in 1815. A widely ac- 
claimed report of Ergot efficacy was 
published by Dr. John Stearns in 1808. 
A few years later, a Massachusetts doc- 
tor, Prescott, gave a dissertation on the 
“natural history and medicinal effects” 
of Ergot, which, when published in 
1813, called the attention of medical 
science in the New World to the re- 

markable properties of the fungus. 
From that time on, Ergot was increas- 
ingly employed in medicine, although it 
was not accepted in the Pharmacopoeia 
until 1836. 

It was not, however, until the 1920s 
that the active principles of Claviceps 
purpurea were known: ergotamine in 
1921; ergonovine in 1935. Subsequently, 
a number of other related alkaloids have 
been discovered in the plant. Even 
though this dangerous infection of rye 
never had a major magico-religious role 
in European culture, it did earn a special 
place as a plant having connections with 
spiritual forces — a kind of malevolent 
plant of the gods. 


fy < . * ><*■ 

Serves ^ 

Imth of ft Singtikr CafanDN^MiStuMen. 

to Apoor Ehritjr in U.usTarifh, 

Of 3oR theirleetfjy'a I 

JMhi hfiealjnn pot to be acGor rated, for . 

A full Atrram e of’ flieir Cafeis recorded 

In flic RmflvJlegiffer H Philos: 

'Ttaft fatten^ For 

Above left: Persephone, the Queen of 
the Dead, making an offering of shafts 
of grain; is enthroned beside her hus- 
band, Hades, Lord of the Underworld. 
Originally a goddess associated with 
grain, she was abducted to the Under- 
world by Hades, and her return from the 
realm of the dead was connected with 
symbolic rebirth experiences in the 
Eleusinian mysteries, where the wor- 
shipers believed that the restoration of 
the goddess to the upper world ensured 
the faithful a resurrection. It is possible 
that these amazing events in Perse- 
phone’s life might have been linked with 
intoxication from Ergot, since Greek 
sophistication in the chemical proper- 
ties of plants was well developed. 

Above right: The title page of a German 
book from 1771, Ergot: An Alleged 
Cause of the So-called St. Anthony’s 


27 datura INNOXIA 
' Toloache 


Thorn Apple 


Above left: The Datura stramonium var. 
tatula is the most common in the Hima- 
layas. It is easily recognized by the 
violet color of the flower. 

Above right: The sacred Thorn Apple 
(Datura metel) is often found in the 
Himalayas on altars to the gods of the 
mountains (photo taken in Tukche, 

Below right: A yellow-flowered Datura 
metel in full bloom. 

A beautiful Zuni Indian legend tells of 
the divine origin of Aneglakya, Datura 
innoxia, their most sacred plant: 

“In the olden time a boy and a girl, 
brother and sister (the boy’s name was 
A’neglakya and the girl’s name A’negla- 
kyatsi’tsa), lived in the interior of the 
earth, but they often came to the outer 
world and walked about a great deal, 
observing closely everything they saw 
and heard and repeating all to their 
mother. This constant talking did not 
please the Divine Ones (twin sons of 
the Sun Father). On meeting the boy 
and the girl the Divine Ones asked, 
‘How are you?’ and the brother and sis- 
ter answered, ‘We are happy.’ (Some- 
times A’neglakya and A’neglakyatsi’tsa 
appeared on Earth as old people.) They 
told the Divine Ones how they could 
make one sleep and see ghosts, and 
how they could make one walk about a 
little and see one who had committed 
theft. After this meeting the Divine 
Ones concluded that A’neglakya and 
A’neglakyatsi’tsa knew too much and 
that they should be banished for all time 
from this world; so the Divine Ones 

caused the brother and sister to disap- 
pear into the earth forever. Flowers 
sprang up at the spot where the two des- 
cended — flowers exactly like those that 
they wore on each side of their heads 
when visiting the earth. The Divine 
Ones called the plant ‘a’neglakya’ after 
the boy’s name. The original plant has 
many children scattered over the earth; 
some of the blossoms are tinged with 
yellow, some with blue, some with red, 
some are all white — the colors belong- 
ing to the four cardinal points.” 

This and related species of Datura 

The Chemistry of Datura 

The various species of Datura contain the same major alkaloids as related 
solanaceous plants (Angel’s Trumpet, Belladonna, Henbane, and Mandrake) 
hyoscyamine and, in greatest concentration, scopolamine. Meteloidine is a 
characteristic secondary alkaloid of D. metel. 

have long been employed as sacred hal- 
lucinogens, especially in Mexico and the 
American Southwest, and have played 
major roles in native medicine and 
magico-religious rites. Their undoubted 
danger as potent narcotics, however, has 
never been challenged, even from ear- 
liest times. 

In the Old World, Datura has had a 
long history as a medicine and sacred 
hallucinogen, although the genus has 
apparently never enjoyed the ceremo- 
nial role that it has had in the New 
World. Early Sanskrit and Chinese 
writings mention Datura metel. It was 
undoubtedly this species that the Ara- 
bian doctor Avicenna reported in the 
eleventh century under the name Jouz- 
mathal (“metel nut”); this report was 
repeated in Dioscorides’ writings. The 
name metel is taken from this Arabic 
term, while the generic epithet Datura 
was adapted to Latin by Linnaeus from 
the Sanskrit Dhatura. In China, the 
plant was considered sacred: when Bud- 
dha was preaching, heaven sprinkled the 
plant with dew or raindrops. A Taoist 
legend maintains that Datura metel is 

one of the circumpolar stars and that 
envoys to earth from this star carry a 
flower of the plant in their hand. Several 
species of Datura were introduced into 
China from India between the Sung and 
Ming dynasties — that is, between a. d. 
960 and 1644 — so they were not re- 
corded in earlier herbals. The herbalist 
Li Shih-chen reported the medicinal 
uses of one of the species known as 
Man-t’o-lo in 1596: the flowers and 
seeds were employed to treat eruptions 
on the face, and the plant was prescribed 
internally for colds, nervous disorders, 
and other problems. It was taken to- 
gether with Cannabis in wine as an an- 
esthesia for minor surgical operations. 
Its narcotic properties were known to 
the Chinese, for Li Shih-chen person- 
ally experimented on himself and wrote: 
“According to traditions, it is alleged 
that when the flowers are picked for 
use with wine while one is laughing, 
the wine will cause one to produce 
laughing movements; and when the 
flowers are picked while one is dancing, 
the wine will cause one to produce dan- 
cing movements. [I have found out] that 

Top: Traditional depiction of the Thorn 
Apple on a Tibetan medicinal painting. 

Above left: The hanging fruit of Datura 
irmoxia. The seeds that are chewed by 
shamans to induce a clairvoyant trance 
are clearly visible. 

Above middle: Many species of Datura 
have played a vital medicinal and ineb- 
riant role in Mexico since early times. 
This page from the “Badianus Manu- 
script’ ( Codex Berberini Latina 241 , 
Folio 29) depicts two species of Datura 
and describes their therapeutic uses. 
This document of 1 542 is the first herbal 
to be written in the New World. 

Above right: A Datura flower is left as an 
offering on a Shiva Lingam at Pashupa- 
tinath (Nepal). 


valued Datura metel for treating mental 
disorders, various fevers, tumors, breast 
inflammations, skin diseases, and diar- 

In other parts of Asia, D. metel was 
valued and similarly employed in native 
medicine and as an intoxicant. Even to- 
day, seeds or powdered leaves of this 
plant are often mixed with Cannabis or 
Tobacco and smoked in Indochina. In 

Right: The typical fruit of the Datura 
metel. In India it is given to the god 
Shiva as an offering. 

Below: It was believed that when Bud- 
dha preached, dew or raindrops fell 
from heaven on Datura. This bronze 
shrine from the Sui period of China de- 
picts Amitabha Buddha seated under 
the jeweled trees of Paradise. 

such movements will be produced when 
one becomes half-drunk with the wine 
and someone else laughs or dances to 
induce these actions.” 

In India, it was called tuft of Shiva, the 
god of destruction. Dancing girls some- 
times drugged wine with its seeds, and 
whoever drank of the potion, appearing 
in possession of his senses, gave answers 
to questions, although he had no control 
of his will, was ignorant of whom he was 
addressing, and lost all memory of what 
he did when the intoxication wore off. 
For this reason, many Indians called the 
plant “drunkard,” “madman,” “decei- 
ver,” and “foolmaker.” The British 
traveler Hardwicke found this plant 
common in mountain villages in India 
in 1796 and reported that an infusion of 
the seeds was used to increase the intox- 
ication from alcoholic drinks. During 
the Sanskritic period, Indian medicine 


1578, its use as an aphrodisiac in the 
East Indies was reported. From earliest 
classical times, the dangers of Datura 
were recognized. The English herbalist 
Gerard believed that Datura was the 
Hippomanes that the Greek writer 
Theocritus mentioned as driving horses 

Datura stramonium var. ferox, a spe- 
cies now widely distributed in the war- 
mer parts of both hemispheres, has uses 
almost identical with those of D. metel. 
It is employed especially in parts of 
Africa. In Tanzania, it is added to 
Pombe, a kind of beer, for its inebriating 

to induce visual hallucinations but also 
for a great variety of medicinal uses, 
especially when applied to the body to 
relieve rheumatic pains and to reduce 

Writing shortly after the conquest of 
Mexico, Hernandez mentioned its med- 
icinal value but warned that excessive 
use would drive patients to madness 
with “various and vain imaginations.” 
Neither its magico-religious nor its ther- 
apeutic use has diminished in Mexico. 
Among the Yaqui, for example, it is ta- 
ken by women to lessen the pain of 
childbirth. It is considered so powerful 
that it can be handled only by “someone 
of authority.” One ethnobotanist wrote: 
“My collecting these plants was often 
accompanied with warnings that I 
would go crazy and die because I was 
mistreating them. Some Indians refused 
to talk to me for several days afterward.” 

Page 108 bottom right: The opening 
blossom of a Datura innoxia. The 
Mayans call it xtohk’uh, “toward the 
gods,” and still use it for shamanic pur- 
poses such as divination and medicinal 

Above left: A Datura fruit has been left 
as an offering at the image of Nandi, 
Shiva’s sacred steer. 

La unica'solucibn ! Conocido por las tribus amazanicos 
del Alto Ucayali. El perfume CHAMICO te da' energia 
para hacer el amor cuantas veces quieras y amarrar a 
la persona que quieras. Quieres ser sensual? Usoeste 
perfume. ... 


effects. A common medical use in Africa 
is smoking the leaves to relieve asthma 
and pulmonary problems. 

In the New World, the Mexicans call 
Datura Toloache, a modern version of 
the ancient Aztec Toloatzin (that is, 
“inclined head,” in reference to its nod- 
ding fruit). It was also known in the 
Nahuatl language as Tolohuaxihuitl 
and Tlapatl. It was employed not only 

Toloache is rather widely added to mes- 
cal, a distilled liquor from Agave, or to 
Tesguino, a fermented maize drink, as an 
added intoxicant — “as a catalyst and to 
induce a good feeling and visions.” 
Some Mexicans prepare a fatty ointment 
containing seeds and leaves of Toloache, 
which is rubbed over the abdomen to in- 
duce visual hallucinations. 

Among the Indians of the Southwest, 

Bottom left: In northern India Datura 
fruit is threaded into garlands and 
offered to the Hindu god Shiva. 

Bottom right: The Curanderos (local 
healers) of northern Peru enjoy using a 
perfume that is named Chamico (Thorn 


Top left: The thorn-protected fruit of a 
rare species of Thorn Apple. 

Bottom left: The blossoms of the Thorn 
Apple (Datura stramonium) open in the 
evening, exude a delightful scent 
throughout the night, and fade in the 

Right: A purple variety of the Datura 
metel, better known as Datura fastuosa. 
In particular, this plant is used in Africa 
as an inebriant in initiation rites. 

“I ate the thorn apple leaves 
And the leaves made me 

I ate the thorn apple, leaves 
And the leaves made me 

I ate the thorn apple flowers 
And the drink made me 

The hunter’s bow remaining 
He overtook and killed me. 

Cut and threw my horns 

The hunter, reed remaining. 

He overtook and killed me 
Cut and threw my feet away. 

Now the flies become crazy 
And drop with flapping 

No drunken butterflies sit 
With opening and shutting 

— F. Russel 
Pima hunting song 

D. innoxia has assumed extraordinary 
importance as a sacred element and is 
the most widely used plant to induce 
hallucinations. The Zunis believe that 
the plant belongs to the Rain Priest 
Fraternity and rain priests alone may 
collect its roots. These priests put the 
powdered root into their eyes to com- 
mune with the Feathered Kingdom at 
night, and they chew the roots to ask 
the dead to intercede with the spirits 
for rain. These priests further use D. in- 
noxia for its analgesic effects, to deaden 
pain during simple operations, bone- 
setting, and cleaning ulcerated wounds. 
The Yokut, who call the plant Tanayin, 
take the drug only during the spring, 
since it is considered to be poisonous in 
the summer; it is given to adolescent 
boys and girls only once in a lifetime to 
ensure a good and a long life. 

Boys and girls of the Tubatulobal 
tribe drink Datura after puberty to 
"obtain life,” and adults use it to obtain 
visions. The roots are macerated and 
soaked in water for ten hours; after 
drinking large amounts of this liquor, 
the youths fall into a stupor accompa- 
nied by hallucinations that may last up 
to twenty-four hours. If an animal — an 
eagle, a hawk, for example — is seen dur- 
ing the visions, it becomes the child’s 
"pet” or spiritual mascot for life: if 
"life” is seen, the child acquires a ghost. 
The ghost is the ideal object to appear, 
since it cannot die. Children never may 
kill the animal “pet” that they see in 
their Datura vision, for these “pets” 
may visit during serious illness and ef- 
fect a cure. 

The Yuman tribes believe that the re- 
action of braves under the influence of 
Toloache may foretell their future. 
These people use the plant to gain oc- 
cult power. If birds sing to a man in a 
Datura trance, he acquires the power 
to cure. 

The Navajo take Datura for its vi- 
sionary properties, valuing it for diag- 
nosis, healing, and purely intoxicating 
use. Navajo use is magic-oriented. Vi- 
sions induced by this drug are especially 
valued, since they reveal certain animals 
possessing special significance. Upon 
learning from these visions the cause of 
a disease, a chant may be prescribed. If a 
man be repulsed in love by a girl, he 
seeks revenge by putting her saliva or 
dust from her moccasins on a Datura, 
then the singing of a chant will immedi- 
ately drive the girl mad. 

Datura stramonium is now believed 
to be native to eastern America, where 
the Algonquins and other tribes may 
have employed it as a ceremonial hallu- 
cinogen. Indians of Virginia used a toxic 
medicine called wysoccan in initiatory 
rites: the Huskanawing ceremony. The 
active ingredient was probably Datura 
stramonium. Youths were confined for 
long periods, given "no other substance 
but the infusion or decoction of some 
poisonous, intoxicating roots” and 
“they became stark, staring mad, in 
which raving condition they were kept 
eighteen or twenty days.” During the 
ordeal, they “unlive their former lives” 
and begin manhood by losing all mem- 
ory of ever having been boys. 

There is in Mexico a curious species 


Right: A magician of Kuma in northeast 
Africa leads entranced women in a ritual 
dance. The substance that they ingest con- 
sists of a secret mixture of many different 
plants, most of which are unknown. Evi- 
dence suggests that Datura is among them. 
The women are possessed by the spirits 
who use them as their medium. 

Left: The illustration from the early 
writings of Sahagun. the Spanish friar 
who wrote shortly after the conquest 
of Mexico, pictures the utilization of 

an infusion of Datura to relieve 
rheumatism. This use is still found 
recommended in modern 

of Datura, so distinct that a separate 
section of the genus has been set up for 
its classification. It is D. ceratocaula, a 
fleshy plant with thick, forking stems 
of bogs, or growing in water. Known as 
Torna Loco ("maddening plant”), it is 
powerfully narcotic. In ancient Mexico, 
it was considered “sister of Ololiuqui” 
and was held in great veneration. Little 
is known concerning its use today for 
hallucinogenic purposes. 

The effects of all species are similar, 
since their constituents are so much 
alike. Physiological activity begins with 
a feeling of lassitude and progresses into 
a period of hallucinations followed by 
deep sleep and loss of consciousness. In 
excessive doses, death or permanent in- 
sanity may occur. So potent is the psy- 
choactivity of all species of Datura that 
it is patently clear why peoples in indi- 
genous cultures around the world have 
classed them as plants of the gods. 


yU Iboga 


Page 1 13 top: Dried Iboga roots. 

Page 1 13 middle left: Old wooden fetish 
objects of the Fang, who were once 
associated with an Iboga cult. 

Page 1 13 middle right: The conspicu- 
ous bright yellow fruits of the Iboga. 

“Zame ye Mebege [the last of the crea- 
tor gods] gave us Eboka. One day ... he 
saw . . . the Pygmy Bitamu, high in an 
Atanga tree, gathering its fruit. He made 
him fall. He died, and Zame brought his 
spirit to him. Zame cut off the little fin- 
gers and the little toes of the cadaver of 
the Pygmy and planted them in various 
parts of the forest. They grew into the 
Eboka bush.” 

open the head,” thus inducing a contact 
with the ancestors through collapse and 

The drug has far-reaching social in- 
fluence. According to the natives, the 
initiate cannot enter the cult until he 
has seen Bwiti, and the only way to see 
Bwiti is to eat Iboga. The complex cere- 
monies and tribal dances associated 
with consumption of Iboga vary greatly 

Left: The roots of the Iboga bush are ri- 
tually eaten by the Bwiti cult in order to 
call forth the ancestors. 

Right: Iboga, necessary for rituals, is 
grown at the temple of the Bwiti cult. 

One of the few members of the Apo- 
cynaceae utilized as a hallucinogen, this 
shrub attains a height of 4 to 6 feet (1.5— 
2 m). Its yellowish root is the active part 
of the plant, containing the psychoac- 
tive alkaloids. The root bark is rasped 
and eaten directly as raspings or as a 
powder or is drunk as an infusion. 

Iboga is basic to the Bwiti cult and 
other secret societies in Gabon and 
Zaire. The drug is taken in two ways: 
regularly in limited doses before and in 
the early part of the ceremonies, fol- 
lowed after midnight by a smaller 
dose; and once or twice during the in- 
itiation to the cult in excessive doses of 
one to three basketfuls over an eight- 
to twenty-four-hour period, to “break 

from locality to locality. Iboga enters 
also other aspects of Bwiti’s control of 
events. Sorcerers take the drug to seek 
information from the spirit world, and 
leaders of the cult may consume Iboga 
for a full day before asking advice from 

Iboga is intimately associated with 
death: the plant is frequently anthropo- 
morphized as a supernatural being, a 
“generic ancestor,” which can so highly 
value or despise an individual that it can 
carry him away to the realm of the dead. 
There are sometimes deaths from the 
excessive doses taken during initiations, 
but the intoxication usually so interferes 
with motor activity that the initiates 
must sit gazing intently into space, 


eventually collapsing and having to be 
carried to a special house or forest hide- 
out. During this almost comatose peri- 
od, the “shadow” (soul) leaves the body 
to wander with the ancestors in the land 
of the dead. The bahzie (angels) — the 
initiates — relate their visions as follows: 
“A dead relative came to me in my sleep 
and told me to eat it”; “I was sick and 
was counseled to eat Iboga to cure 

The Chemistry of Iboga 

As with other hallucinogens, especially Teonanacatl ( Psilocybe spp.) and 
Ololiuqui, the active principles of Tabernanthe iboga belong to the large class 
of indole alkaloids. Ibogaine, which can be produced synthetically, is the main 
alkaloid of T. iboga. Its hallucinogenic effects are accompanied by strong sti- 
mulation of the central nervous system. 

myself”; “I wanted to know God — to 
know things of the dead and the land 
beyond”; “I walked or flew over a long, 
multicolored road or over many rivers 
which led me to my ancestors, who then 
took me to the great gods.” 

Iboga may act as a powerful stimu- 
lant, enabling the partaker to maintain 
extraordinary physical exertion without 
fatigue over a long period. The body 
may feel lighter, and levitation — a feel- 
ing of floating — is often experienced. 
Spectrums or rainbowlike effects are 
seen in surrounding objects, indications 
to the banzie that the initiate is ap- 
proaching the realms of the ancestors 
and of the gods. Time perception is al- 
tered; time is lengthened, and initiates 

Addiction Therapy with Ibogaine 

Iboga roots contain an alkaloid known as ibogaine. This substance was first 
introduced in the 1 960s by the Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo as a 
“fantasy-enhancing drug” for psychotherapy. Today, ibogaine is in the spot- 
light of neuropsychological research, which has shown that the alkaloid can 
ease drug addiction (to such drugs as heroin and cocaine) and make way for 
a cure. Ibogaine calms the motor activity that is present when under the influ- 
ence of an opiate. The chiropractor Karl Naeher says that “Ibogaine, when 
taken in one high dose by an opiate addict, drastically reduces withdrawal 
symptoms and, at the same time, causes a ‘trip’ that reveals such deep in- 
sights into the personal causes of the addiction that the majority of those who 
undergo this type of therapy can go for months without a relapse. But several 
additional sessions are required before a lasting stabilization is evident.” 
Research into the potential use of ibogaine as a treatment for substance 
abuse is being carried out by Deborah Mash and her team in Miami. 


Page 115 top: The seeds of the Iboga 
hush can germinate only under particu- 
lar conditions. They themselves contain 
no active compounds. 

Page 1 15 right: Music plays a central 
role in the Bwiti cult. The harp player 
not only allows the strings to resonate, 
but also sings liturgies in which the 
cosmology and worldview of the tribe 
are expressed. 

Top left: The typical leaves of the Iboga 

Top right: A herbarium specimen of 
Tabernanthe iboga in a comparative 
botanical collection. 

feel that their spiritual trip has taken 
many hours or even days. The body is 
seen as detached: one user reported, 
“Here I am, and there is my body going 
through its action.” Large doses induce 
auditory, olfactory, and gustatory syn- 
esthesia. Mood may vary greatly from 
fear to euphoria. 

An Englishman writing on Gabon 
mentioned “Eroga” under “fetish plants” 
as early as 1819. Describing it as a 
“favorite but violent medicine,” he 
undoubtedly saw it powdered and as- 
sumed that it represented a charred 
fungus. French and Belgian explorers 
encountered this remarkable drug and 
the cults using it a little over a century 
ago. They stated that the drug greatly 
increased muscular strength and endur- 
ance and that it had aphrodisiac proper- 
ties. An early report, in 1864, insisted 
that Iboga is not toxic except in high 
doses, that “warriors and hunters use it 
constantly to keep themselves awake 

description of the experiences of an in- 
itiate under high dosage of the drug: 
“Soon all his sinews stretch out in an 
extraordinary fashion. An epileptic 
madness seizes him, during which, un- 
conscious, he mouths words which, 
when heard by the initiated ones, have 
a prophetic meaning and prove that the 
fetish has entered him.” 

Other plants of reputed narcotic 
properties are involved in the Iboga 

Above left and right: During the initiation 
rilor, of the Bwiti cult, the novices ingest 
exlrcmely high doses of the Iboga root 
in order to attain contact with the an- 
cestors during the powerful ritual. 

during night watches . . .” In the 1880s, 
the Germans met it in Cameroon 
(northern Gabon), and in 1898 it was 
reported that the root had an “exciting 
effect on the nervous system so that its 
use is highly valued on long, tiring 
marches, on lengthy canoe voyages, 
and on difficult night watches.” 

The earliest report of its hallucino- 
genic effects dates from 1903, with the 

cults, sometimes used alone, sometimes 
as admixtures with Tabernanthe iboga 
itself. Cannabis saliva — known as Yarna 
or Beyama — may often be smoked fol- 
lowing ingestion of small doses of Ibo- 
ga. In Gabon, Cannabis resin may on 
occasion be eaten with Iboga. Alan, the 
euphorbiaceous Alchornea flonbunda, 
is often consumed in large amounts to 
help produce the collapse experienced 


in Bwiti initiations; in southern Gabon, 
it is mixed with Iboga. Another euphor- 
biaceous plant — Ayan-beyem or Elaeo- 
phorbia drupifera — may be taken dur- 
ing Bwiti initiations, when Alan is slow 
to take effect; the latex is applied di- 
rectly to the eyes with a parrot feather, 
affecting the optical nerve and inducing 

The Bwiti cult has been growing in 
number of converts and in social 
strength, not waning, in recent decades. 
It represents a strong native element in a 
changing society being rapidly engulfed 
in foreign cultural influences. They con- 
sider that the drug and its associated 
cults enable them more easily to resist 
the vertiginous transition from the indi- 
vidualism of traditional tribal life to the 
collectivism and loss of identity in the 
encroaching Western civilization. It 
may well offer the strongest single force 
against the missionary spread of Chris- 
tianity and Islam, since it unifies many 
of the once hostile, warring tribes in re- 
sistance to European innovations. As 
one initiate stated: “Catholicism and 
Protestantism is not our religion. I am 
not happy in the mission churches.” 

The cultural importance of the drug is 
everywhere seen. The name Iboga is 
used for the whole Bwiti cult; ndzi- 
eboka (“eater of Iboga”) means a mem- 
ber of the cult; nyiba-eboka signifies the 
religion surrounding the narcotic plant. 

iboga in every sense of the term is in- 
deed a plant of the gods. It appears to be 
here to stay in the native cultures of 
west-central Africa. 




In the beginning, the Sun created various 
beings to serve as intermediaries between 
Him and Earth. He created hallucino- 
genic snuff powder so that man could 
contact supernatural beings. The Sun 
had kept this powder in His navel, but 
the Daughter of the Sun found it. Thus 
it became available to man — a vegetal 
product acquired directly from the gods. 

center of use of this snuff is and prob- 
ably always has been the Orinoco. The 
West Indian tribes are thought to have 
been, in the main, invaders from north- 
ern South America. It is very probable 
that the custom of snuffing the drug, as 
well as the tree itself, was introduced by 
invaders from the Orinoco area. 

It is now suspected that Yopo was 

Left: The beans of the Yopo Tree (Ana- 
denanthera peregrina) are used by 
many Indians as a shamanic snuff 
(specimen collected in Guyana). 

Right: Baron Alexander von Humboldt 
and his co-collector Aime Bonpland 
carefully explored the flora of the Orino- 
co River, the frontier between Colombia 
and Venezuela, and while there they 
encountered the preparation and use of 
Yopo snuff in 1801. 

As far back as 1496, an early Spanish 
report mentioned that the Taino of His- 
paniola inhaled a powder called Cohoba 
to communicate with the spirit world. It 
was so strong that those who took it lost 
consciousness; when the stupefying ac- 
tion began to wane, the arms and legs 
became loose and the head nodded, and 
almost immediately they believed that 
they saw the room turn upside-down so 
that men were walking with their heads 
downward. Mainly because of the dis- 
appearance of aboriginal peoples in the 
West Indies, this snuff is no longer em- 
ployed anywhere in the Antilles. 

In 1916, ethnobotanical research 
established the identity of this Coho- 
ba — quite generally until then thought 
to have been a very potent kind of To- 
bacco snuff — with the hallucinogenic 
snuff of the Orinoco called Yopo and 
derived from the beans of Anade- 
nanthera peregrina, better known in the 
literature as Piptadenia peregrina. The 

used much more widely in earlier peri- 
ods. There is evidence that in pre- 
Hispanic times, this snuff was used by 
Chibchan tribes from the Colombian 
Andes east across the llanos, or plains, 
to the upper Orinoco. 

In 1560 a missionary in the Colom- 
bian llanos wrote that the Indians along 
the Rio Guaviare “are accustomed to 
take Yopa and Tobacco, and the former 
is a seed or pip of a tree . . . they become 


Below left: The finely pinnate leaves of 
the Yopo tree are important for identifi- 
cation, but contain no active properties. 

Right: In the open grasslands, or cam- 
pos, of the northern Amazon of Brazil, 
Anadenanthera grows profusely. The 
tree bears long pods with usually six to 
twelve seeds, which are the source of 
the hallucinogenic snuff. 

Below right: Over 1 25 years ago, the 
English explorer Richard Spruce col- 
lected on the Orinoco these artifacts 
associated with the preparation and 
use of Yopo snuff. They are still pre- 
served in the museum at the Royal 
Botanic Gardens, Kew. 

drowsy while the devil, in their dreams, 
shows them all the vanities and corrup- 
tions he wishes them to see and which 
they take to be true revelations in which 
they believe, even if told they will die. 
This habit of taking Yopa and Tobacco 
is general in the New Kingdom.” An- 
other chronicler wrote in 1599: “They 
chew Hayo or Coca and Jopa and 

Tobacco . . . going out of their minds, 
and then the devil speaks to them . . . 
Jopa is a tree with small pods like those 
of vetches, and the seeds inside are simi- 
lar but smaller.” Yopo was so important 
in pre-Conquest Colombia that Indians 
of the highlands, where the tree will not 
grow, traded the drug up from the tro- 
pical lowlands: the Muisca of the 
Colombian Andes, according to an 
early Spanish historian, used the snuff: 
“Jop: herb of divination, used by the 
mojas or sun-priests. in Tunja and Bogo- 
ta.” The Muisca “will not travel nor 
wage war nor do any other thing of im- 
portance without learning beforehand 
what will be the outcome, or this they 
try to ascertain with two herbs which 
they consume, called Yop and Osca 
Yopo snuff may sometimes, as among 
the Guahibo, be taken daily as a stimu- 
lant. But it is more commonly employed 
by payes (shamans) to induce trances 
and visions and communicate with the 

The Chemistry of Yopo 

The active principles of Anadenanthera peregrina belong to both open- 
chained and ringed tryptamine derivatives and, therefore, to the important 
class of indole alkaloids. Tryptamine is also the basic compound of the amino 
acid tryptophane, widely distributed in the Animal Kingdom. Dimethyltrypta- 
mine (DMT) and 5-hydroxydimethyltryptamine (bufotenine) are representa- 
tives of the open-chained Anadenanthera tryptamines. Bufotenine has also 
been found in the skin secretion of a toad ( Bufo sp.) — hence its name. Ringed 
tryptamine derivatives found in Anadenanthera are 2-methyl- and 1,2-di- 


Drawings right (pages 1 18-19): 
Countless artifacts related to the ritual 
use of snuff have been discovered in 
archaeological digs in the Caribbean 
and in South America (for example, 
Haiti, Costa Rica, Colombia, and 

Photo sequence pages 118-19: 
Undoubtedly the most intense Pse of 
Yopo snuff prepared from Anade- 
nanthera peregrina is found among the 
various groups of Waika living in 
southernmost Venezuela and adjacent 
parts of northernmost Brazil. These 
peoples consume enormous amounts 
of the hallucinogenic powder, blowing it 
forcefully into the nostrils through long 
tubes made from the stems of 
maranthaceous plants. 

Before snuffing Yopo, the Waika sha- 
mans gather and chant, invoking the 
Hekula spirits with whom they will be 
communicating during the ensuing 

The snuff acts rapidly, causing first a 
profuse flow of mucus from the nasal 
passages and occasionally a notable 
quivering of the muscles, especially in 
the arms, and a contorted expression 
on the face. 

This period quickly gives way to one 
in which the shamans begin to prance, 
gesticulating and shrieking violently, 
calling on the Hekula. 

The expenditure of energy lasts from 
half an hour to an hour; eventually, fully 
spent, they fall into a trancelike stupor, 
during which visions are experienced. 

Hekula spirits; to prophesy or divine; to 
protect the tribe against epidemics of 
sickness; to make hunters and even their 
dogs more alert. There has been a long 
and complicated confusion between the 
hallucinogenic snuff prepared from 
Anadenanthera and that from Virola 
and other plants. Consequently, the nu- 
merous distribution maps in anthropo- 
logical literature showing immense 
areas of South American using Anade- 
nanth era-derived snuff must be used 
with due caution. 

In 1741, the Jesuit missionary Gumil- 
la, who wrote extensively on the geo- 
graphy of the Orinoco, described the 
use of Yopo by the Otomac: “They have 
another abominable habit of intoxicat- 
ing themselves through the nostrils with 
certain malignant powders which they 
call Yupa which quite takes away their 
reason, and they will furiously take up 
arms . . Following a description of the 
preparation of the snuff and a custom of 
adding lime from snail shells, he re- 
ported that “before a battle, they would 
throw themselves into a frenzy with 
Yupa, wound themselves and, full of 
blood and rage, go forth to battle like 
rabid jaguars.” 

The first scientific report of Yopo was 
made by the explorer Baron von Hum- 
boldt, who botanically identified the 
source and reported that the Maypure 
Indians of the Orinoco, where he wit- 
nessed the preparation of the drug in 


1801, broke the long pods, moistened 
them, and allowed them to ferment; 
when they turned black, the softened 
beans were kneaded into cakes with cas- 
sava flour and lime from snails. These 
cakes were crushed to • make snuff. 
Humboldt, quite erroneously, believed 
that “it is not to be believed that the . . . 
pods are the chief cause of the . . . effects 
of the snuff . . . These effects are due to 
the freshly calcined lime.” 

Later, Spruce offered an extremely 
detailed report on the preparation and 
use of Yopo among the Guahibo of the 
Orinoco. He collected a complete set of 
ethnographic material connected with 
the substance, and seeds that he col- 
lected for chemical study in 1851 were 
chemically analyzed only in 1977. 

“A wandering horde of Guahibo In- 
dians . . . was encamped on the savannas 
of Maypures, and on a visit to their 
camp I saw an old man grinding Niopo 
seeds, and purchased of him his appara- 
tus for making and taking the snuff . . . 
The seeds, being first roasted, are pow- 
dered on a wooden platter ... It is held 
on the knees by a broad thin handle, 
which is grasped in the left hand, while 
the fingers of the right hold a small spa- 
tula or pestle . . . with which the seeds 
are crushed . . . The snuff is kept in a 
mull made of a bit of the leg-bone of 
the jaguar . . . For taking the snuff, they 
use an apparatus made of the leg bones 

of herons or other long-shanked birds 
put together in the shape of the letter Y 

A contemporary observer described 
the effects of Yopo snuffing as follows: 
“His eyes started from his head, his 
mouth contracted, his limbs trembled. 
It was fearful to see him. He was ob- 
liged to sit down or he would have fall- 
en. He was drunk but only for about 
five minutes; he was then gayer.” 

There is appreciable variation from 
tribe to tribe and from one area to an- 
other in the preparation of Yopo. The 
seeds are usually toasted and pulver- 
ized. Lime from snails or the ashes of 
certain plants are normally added, but 
some Indians use the snuff without this 
alkaline admixture. It appears that other 
plant admixtures are never employed 
with Anadenanthera snuff. 

Anadenanthera peregrina occurs na- 
turally and sometimes apparently culti- 
vated in the plains or grassland areas of 
the Orinoco basin of Colombia and Ve- 
nezuela, in light forests in southern 
British Guyana, and in the Rio Branco 
area of the northern Amazonia of Bra- 
zil. It may occur also in isolated savanna 
areas in the Rio Medeira region. When it 
is found elsewhere, it may probably 
have been introduced by Indians. There 
is evidence that, a century ago, it was 
cultivated in more localities outside of 
its natural range than at present. 




Above from left to right: The Mataco use 
a decoction of fresh (still green) Cebfl 
pods as a head wash for headaches. 

Cebfl, the “Seeds of Civilization” 
(seeds of the Anadenanthera colubri- 
na). Bufotenine is the main active con- 

The ripe seed pods of the Cebfl tree 
(Anadenanthera colubrina var. cebil) 
collect underneath the leaf canopy. 

The knotty bark of the Argentinian Cebfl 
tree (Anadenanthera colubrina bvar. 

Page 121: The Cebfl tree (Anade- 
nanthera colubrinavar. cebil) with ripe 
seed pods. 

In the Atacama Desert of northern 
Chile there is an oasis called San Pedro 
de Atacama. The art historian and ar- 
chaeologist C. Manuel Torres excavated 
and studied over six hundred prehisto- 
ric graves there. The results were aston- 
ishing. Nearly every interred person 
was accompanied for the last journey 
by numerous tools dedicated to the ri- 
tual sniffing of Cebil. 

The name Cebil designates a tree 
(Anadenanthera colubrina ) as well as 
its seeds, which can induce a strong psy- 
choactive effect. 

In the Puna region of northwest Ar- 
gentina is the oldest archaeological 
proof of the ritual or shamanic use of 
Cebil. They have been smoked there 
for over 4,500 years. Numerous ceramic 
pipes have been discovered in certain 
caves of this region. Occasionally the 

The Chemistry of Anadenanthera colubrina 

Some varieties of Cebfl seed contain exclusively bufotenin (C 12 H 16 ON 2 ) as 
the psychoactive ingredient. In tests of other seeds, 5-MeO-MMT, DMT, DMT- 
A/-oxide, bufotenin, and 5-OH-DMT-A(-oxide were found. Old tests of the 
seeds contained 15 mg/g of bufotenin. 

In the dried seeds from the trees of northeast Argentina (Salta), there has 
been found mostly bufotenin (more than 4%), and a related substance (per- 
haps serotonin), but otherwise no other tryptamines or alkaloids. In tests of 
other seeds taken from the garden of a Mataco shaman, 12% bufotenin con- 
tent was found. The ripe pods of the fruit also contain some bufotenin. 

bowls of the pipe still contain Cebil 
seeds. The psychoactive use seems in 
particular to have influenced the culture 
of Tiahuanaco (literally, “City of the 
Gods”). The Tiahuanaco culture is the 
“mother” of Andean civilizations. All 
subsequent high cultures of the region 
have been influenced by it. 

Many examples of pre-Columbian 
snuff paraphernalia (snuff tablets, snuff 
pipes) displaying the iconography of the 
Tiahuanaco culture have been found in 
Puna and the Atacama Desert. They ap- 
pear to be significantly inspired by the 
visions of the Cebil seeds. 

The use of Cebil as a snuff powder in 
the southern Andean region is first 
mentioned in 1580 by the Spanish 
chronicler Cristobal de Albornoz in his 
work Relacion. A psychoactive sub- 
stance cited in sources from colonial 
times called Villca is possibly identical 
to Cebil. 

The shamans of the Wichi (Mataco 
Indians) of northwest Argentina still 
use a snuff made of Cebil today. The 
shamans of the Mataco smoke the 
dried or roasted seeds, preferably in a 
pipe or rolled in a cigarette. The Cebil 
seeds are for them a means to enter 
and influence another reality. Cebil is, 
in a manner of speaking, a gateway to 
a visionary world; this is how the sha- 
man Fortunato Ruiz expresses it. He 
smokes the seeds with tobacco and Ar- 
omo — just as his ancestors did five 
thousand years ago. This makes the 


Below: The German artist Nana Nauwald de- 
picted her experience with Cebfl seeds in a 
painting in 1996. The picture bears the title 
“Nothing is separate from me” and shows the 
typical “worm-like” visions. 

Right: Recently it was reported that the Mataco 
in northern Argentina smoke and sniff Anade- 
nanthera colubrina. With this, the Spaniards’ 
assumption, that the snuffs Cebfl and Villca are 
made from this plant, is confirmed. 

What Was Villca? 

In the colonial literature of New Spain, there are numerous references to the 
psychoactive use of certain seeds or fruits that were known variously as 
Huilca, Huillca, Vilca, Vilcas, Villca, Wil’ka, Willca, or Willka. The ethnohistori- 
cally documented villca (fruit) is today known as the seed of Anadenanthera 
colubrina. Villca was of great ritual and religious significance in Peru in the 
time before the arrival of the Spaniards, and was known to the Incan high 
priests and soothsayers (umu) as Villca or Villca camayo. A holy Indian relic 
(huaca) was known as Villca or Vilcacona and an especially holy mountain is 
known as Villca Coto. On the peak of Villca Coto, it is said that a couple of 
humans saved themselves during the primeval deluge. 

Villca seeds had a ceremonial significance for the Incas as a psychoactive 
subsitute for beer. The “juice” of Villca was added to a fermented corn bev- 
erage and taken by the soothsayer, who would then be able to look into the 

Villca was also the name for enemas, which were used for medicinal or 
shamanic purposes. - . 

northwest of Argentina the place with 
the longest uninterrupted ritualistic or 
shamanic use of psychoactive sub- 
stances in the world. 

As some Matacos have converted to 
Christianity in recent years, they have 
come to identify Cebil with the biblical 
Tree of Knowledge. But they do not see 
Cebil as a “forbidden fruit”; rather, they 
see it as the fruit of a holy tree, which is 
used by shamans for healing. 

The hallucinations triggered by Cebfl 
seem to have been very influential in 
the iconography of the so-called Tia- 
huanaco Style. The iconography of ar- 
tist Chavfn de Huantar is full of similar 
motifs: intertwined snakes coming out 
of the head of the oracle god are clearly 
Cebfl hallucinations. 

The vision-inducing effects of Cebfl 
snuff last for roughly twenty minutes 
and include strong hallucinations, 
which are often only black and white, 
and seldom in color. They are not (or 
are only very rarely) geometric in nat- 
ure, but are strongly flowing and “de- 
centralized.” They are very reminiscent 
of the images produced by the pre- 
Columbian Tiahuanaco culture. 

Cebil seeds also have psychoactive ef- 
fects if they are smoked. The effects are 
very strong for about thirty minutes and 
then fade away. The effects begin with a 
feeling of heaviness in the body. After 
five to ten minutes, visual hallucinations 
begin with the eyes closed, often featur- 
ing worm- and snakelike images flowing 
into one another. Sometimes geometric, 
symmetrical, or crystallographic hallu- 
cinations can occur, but very seldom are 
there any strong visions of a realistic 
nature (such as the experience of flying, 
traveling in another world, transforming 
into an animal, contact with helping 
spirits, and so on). 


Above: The northwest Argentinian 
region of Puna is the area in which the 
longest continued use of visionary and 
shamanic plants can be proved. In this 
region the Cebil seeds have been 
smoked or sniffed for 4,500 years for 
healing ceremonies. 

Left: The painting (oil on canvas, 1996) 
by the Columbian-American artist 
Donna Torres shows the study of an 
ethnobotanist who is researching 
Anadenanthera colubrina. 

Far left: Pre-Columbian snuff tools from 
a grave at San Pedro de Atacama. 

Left: Pre-Columbian snuff vessel made 
from a carved bone (San Pedro de 
Atacama, Chile). 




Syrian Rue 

^ Yage 


There is a magic intoxicant in northwes- 
ternmost South America that the In- 
dians believe can free the soul from 
corporeal confinement, allowing it to 
wander free and return to the body at 
will. The soul, thus untrammeled, liber- 
ates its owner from the realities of 
everyday life and introduces him to 
wondrous realms of what he considers 
reality and permits him to communicate 
with his ancestors. The Quechua term 
for this inebriating drink- — Ayahuasca 
(“vine of the soul”) — refers to this free- 
ing of the spirit. The plants involved are 
truly plants of the gods, for their power 
is laid to supernatural forces residing in 
their tissues, and they were divine gifts 
to the earliest Indians on earth. 

Ayahuasca has many native names: 
Caapi, Dapa, Mihi, Kahi, Natema, 
Pmde, Yaje. The drink, employed for 
prophecy, divination, sorcery, and med- 
ical purposes, is so deeply rooted in na- 
tive mythology and philosophy that 
there can be no doubt of its great age as 
a part of aboriginal life. 

Iwo closely related species of the 
malpighiaceous genus Banisteriopsis — 
B. caapi and B. inebrians — are the most 
important plants used in preparing Aya- 
huasca. But other species are apparently 
used locally on occasion: B. qmtensis; 
Mascagnia glandulifera , M. psilophylla 
var. antife bnlis; Tetrapteris methystica 
and T. mucronata. All of these plants 
are large forest lianas of the same family. 
Banisteriopsis caapi and B. inebrians are 
frequently cultivated in order to have a 
supply close at hand for use. 

Many plants of diverse families are of- 
ten added to the basic drink to alter the 
intoxicating effects. The most com- 
monly used admixtures are leaves of 
Diplopterys cabrerana and of the rubiac- 
eous Psychotna earth agin ensis or P. vir- 
idis. Other known psychoactive plants, 
such as Brugmansia suaveolens , Brun- 
felsia chincaspi, and B. grandiflora, may 
also be added. Among the many plants 
employed are Tobacco; Malouetia 
tamaquanna and a species of Tabernac- 
montana of the Apocynaceae; the acan- 
thaceous Tehostachya lanceolata var. 
crispa or Toe negra; Calathea veitchiana 

of the Maranthaceae; the amaranthac- 
eous Alternanthera lehmannu and a spe- 
cies of Iresine; several ferns mcludm 
Lygodmm venustum and Lomariopsi 
japurensis; Pbiygylanthus eugemoides 
of the Misteltoe family; the American 
Basil Ocimum micranthum; a species of 
the sedge genus Cyperus; several cacti 
including species of Opuntia and Epi- 
pbyllum; and members of the families 
Clusiaceae and Guttiferae. 

The natives often have special names 
for diverse “kinds” of Ayahuasca, al- 
though the botanist frequently finds 
them all representative of the same spe- 
cies. It is usually difficult to understand 
the aboriginal method of classification; 
some may be age forms; others may come 
from different parts of the liana; still 
others may be ecological forms growing 
under varying conditions of soil, shade, 
moisture, and so on. The natives assert 
that these “kinds” have a variety of ef- 
fects, and it is conceivable that they may 
actually have different chemical compo- 
sitions. This possibility is one of the least 
investigated yet most significant aspects 
in the study of Ayahuasca. 

Among the Tukano of the Colombia 
Vaupes, for example, six “kinds” of 
Ayahuasca or Kahi are recognized. Bo- 
tanical identification has not yet been 
possible in all cases, but the “kinds” 
have definite native names. Kahi-riama, 
the strongest, produces auditory hallu- 
cinations and announces future events. 
It is said to cause death if improperly 
employed. The second strongest, Me- 
ne-kahf-ma, reputedly causes visions of 
green snakes. The bark is used, and it is 
also said to cause death, unless cau- 
tiously taken. These two “kinds” may 
not belong to Banisteriopsis or even to 
the family Malpighiaceae. 

The third in strength is called Suana- 
Kahi-ma (“Kahi of the red jaguar”), 
producing visions in red. Kahf-vaf 
Bucura-rijoma (“Kahi of the monkey 
head”) causes monkeys to hallucinate 
and howl. The weakest of the hallucino- 
genic “kinds” of Kahi or Ajuwri-kahi-ma 
has little effect but is used in the drink 
to help the Mene-Kahi-ma. All of these 
“kinds” are referable probably to Banis- 


6 x>. 

Top: The Chacruna shrub (Psychotria 
viridis) is the second most important 
ingredient in the Ayahuasca drink. 

Above right: The shoots of the Aya- 
huasca liana. 

Left: A Shipibo Indian with an 
Ayahuasca liana that he has cultivated 
in his garden. 

Page 124 above: The Ayahuasca liana 
(Banisteriopsis caapi) is a powerful and 
vigorously growing tropical vine. 

Page 124 below: The pieces of 
branch are the base of the Ayahuasca 


“Ayahuasca, medicine, enrapture me fully! 

Help me by opening your beautiful world to me! 

You also are created by the god who created man! 

Reveal to me completely your medicine worlds. I shall heal the sick bodies: 
These sick children and this sick woman shall I heal by making everything good!” 

— Ayahuasca Song of the Shipibo 

Above left: The British plant explorer 
Spruce collected the first botanical spe- 
cimens of Banisteriopsis caapi in 1851 . 
He sent material from the same plant for 
chemical analysis. The material was lo- 
cated in the Museum at the Royal Bota- 
nic Gardens at Kew in 1 969. 

Above right: Among the Kofan of Co- 
lombia and Ecuador, special medicine 
men prepare Curare and Yaje. There is 
an association between these two plant 
products, and Yaje is taken before hunt- 
ing in the belief that the visions will re- 
veal the hiding places of the animals to 
be sought, 

Far right: To make Ayahuasca or Caapi, 
the freshly stripped bark must be vigor- 
ously pounded before being boiled in 
water or kneaded thoroughly in cold 

Page 127 left: The numerous Tukanoan 
tribes of the Vaupes River basin in Co- 
lombia and Brazil practice a male- 
oriented ancestor ceremony. The 
Yurupari dance, in which Caapi is a 
major element, enables the participants 
to communicate with spirits of the dead. 

Page 127 right: Line dancing with intri- 
cate steps and gourd rattles accompa- 
nying chants is typical of Barasana 
ceremonies in which Caapi is taken, 
Piraparana River. 

teriopsis caapi. Kahf-somoma or Kahf- 
uco (“Kahi that makes you vomit”), a 
shrub, the leaves of which are added to 
the drink, an emetic agent, is undoubt- 
edly Diplopterys cabrerana , the same 
plant known among the western Tu- 
kanoan Siona of the Colombian Putu- 
mayo as Oco-yaje. 

Although not so famous as Peyote or 
the sacred Mexican mushrooms, Aya- 
huasca has received popular attention 
because of news articles extolling the 
so-called telepathic powers of the drink. 
In fact, in the chemical investigation of 
Banisteriopsis, the first alkaloid isolated 
was named telepathine. 

The hallucinogen may be prepared in 
diverse ways. Usually, bark is scraped 
from freshly harvested pieces of the 
stem. In the western areas, the bark is 
boiled for several hours, and the bitter, 
thick liquid is taken in small doses. In 
other localities, the bark is pulverized 
and then kneaded in cold water; much 
larger doses must be taken, since it is 
less concentrated. 

The effects of the drink vary accord- 
ing to the method of preparation, the 
setting in which it is taken, the amount 
ingested, the number and kinds of ad- 
mixtures, and the purposes for which it 
is used, as well as the ceremonial control 
exercised by the shaman. 

Ingestion of Ayahuasca usually in- 
duces nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and 
leads to either a euphoric or an aggressive 

state. Frequently the Indian sees over- 
powering attacks of huge snakes or ja- 
guars. These animals often humiliate him 
because he is a mere man. The repetitive- 
ness with which snakes and jaguars occur 
in Ayahuasca visions has intrigued psy- 
chologists. It is understandable that these 
animals play such a role, since they are the 
only beings respected and feared by the 
Indians of the tropical forest; because of 
their power and stealth, they have as- 
sumed a place of primacy in aboriginal 
religious beliefs. In many tribes, the sha- 
man becomes afeline during the intoxica- 
tion, exercising his powers as a wild cat. 
Yekwana medicine men mimic the roars 
of jaguars. Tukano Ayahuasca-takers 
may experience nightmares of jaguar jaws 
swallowing them or huge snakes ap- 
proaching and coiling about their bodies. 
Snakes in bright colors climb up and 
down the house posts. Shamans of the 
Conibo-Shipibo tribe acquire great 
snakes as personal possessions to defend 
themselves in supernatural battles against 
other powerful shamans. 

The drug may be the shaman’s tool to 
diagnose illness or to ward off impend- 
ing disaster, to guess the wiles of an en- 
emy, to prophesy the future. But it is 
more than the shaman’s tool. It enters 
into almost all aspects of the life of the 
people who use it, to an extent equaled 
by hardly any other hallucinogen. Par- 
takers, shamans or not, see all the gods, 
the first human beings, and animals, and 


come to understand the establishment 
of their social order. 

Ayahuasca is, above all, a medicine — 
the great medicine. The Ayahuasca lea- 
der among the Campa of Peru is a reli- 
gious practitioner who, following a 
strict apprenticeship, maintains and in- 
creases his shamanistic power through 
the use of Tobacco and Ayahuasca. 
The Campa shaman under Ayahuasca 
acquires an eerie, distant voice and a 
quivering jaw that indicates the arrival 
of good spirits who, splendidly clad, 
sing and dance before him; the sha- 
man’s singing is merely his own voice 
echoing their song. During the singing, 
his soul may travel far and wide— a 
phenomenon not interfering with per- 
formance of the ceremony nor with 
the shaman’s ability to communicate 
the wishes of the spirits to participants. 

Among the Tukano, the partaker of 
the drug feels himself pulled along by 
powerful winds that the leading shaman 
explains as a trip to the Milky Way, the 
first stop on the way to heaven. Simi- 
larly, the Ecuadorean Zaparo experience 
a sensation of being lifted into the air. 
The souls of Peruvian Conibo-Shipibo 
shamans fly about in the form of a bird; 
or shamans may travel in a supernatural 
canoe manned by demons to reconquer 
lost or stolen souls. 

The effects of the drink are greatly al- 
tered when leaves of Diploterys cabrer- 
ana or of Psychotria are added. The 

The Chemistry of Ayahuasca 

In the belief that they were new discoveries, the first alkaloids isolated from 
Banisteriopsis were called telepathine and banisterine. Further chemical in- 
vestigations revealed that these preparations were identical with the alkaloid 
harmine, previously isolated from Syrian Rue, Peganum harmala. Further- 
more, the secondary alkaloids of Paganum, harmaline and tetrahydrohar- 
mine, also occur in Banisteriopsis. The active principles are indole alkaloids 
found in several other hallucinogenic plants. 

The drink made from Ayahuasca is a unique pharmacological combination 
of Banisteriopsis caapi, a liana that contains harmaline, and Chacruna (Psy- 
chotria viridia) leaves, which contain DMT. Flarmaline is an MAO inhibitor; it 
reduces the body’s production and distribution of monoamine oxidase (MAO). 
MAO normally breaks down the vision-inducing ingredient DMT before it can 
cross the blood-brain barrier into the central nervous system. Only with this 
combination of ingredients can the drink have its consciousness-expanding 
effects and trigger visions. 

Plants Containing the MAO-Inhibiting |3-Carboline Alkaloids: 

Banisteriopsis spp. 

Kochia scoparia (L.) SCHRAD. 
Passiflora involucrata 
Passiflora spp. 

Peganum harmala L. 

Strychnos usambarensis GILG 
Tribulus terrestris L. 


Harmine, Harmane 

Harmine, Harmane, etc. 

Harmine, Tetrahydroharmine, 
Dihydroharmaline, Harmane, Isohar- 
mine, Tetrahydroharmol, Harmalol, 
Harmol. Norharmine, 



Harmine, among others 


“Practically all decorative 
elements . . . are said . . . 

to be derived from 
hallucinatory imagery . . . 

The most outstanding 
examples are the paintings 
executed on the front walls of 
the malocas . . . sometimes . . . 
representing the Lord of 
Game Animals . . . 

When asked about these 
paintings, the Indians simply 
reply: ‘This is what we see 
when we drink Yaje . . 

— G. Reichel-Dolmatoff 


tryptamines in these additives are be- 
lieved to be inactive when taken orally, 
unless monoamine oxidase inhibitors 
are present. The harmine and its deriva- 
tives in B. caapi and B. inebrians are in- 
hibitors of this kind, potentiating the 
tryptamines. Both types of alkaloids, 
however, are hallucinogenic. 

Length and vividness of the visual hal- 
lucinations are notably enhanced when 
these additives are present. Whereas 
visions with the basic drink are seen 
usually in blue, purple, or gray, those 
induced when the tryptaminic additives 
are used may be brightly colored in reds 
and yellows. 

The Ayahuasca intoxication may be a 
very intense experience with visions of 
light setting in with the eyes closed after 
a period of giddiness, nervousness, pro- 
fuse sweating, and sometimes nausea. A| 
period of lassitude initiates the play of 
colors — at first white, then mainly a hazy, 
smoky blue that later increases in inten- 
sity; eventually sleep, interrupted by 
dreams and occasional feverishness, takes 
over. Serious diarrhea, which continues 
after the intoxication, is the uncomforta- 
ble effect most frequently experienced. 
With the tryptaminic additives, many of 
these effects are intensified, but trembling 
and convulsive shaking, mydriasis, and 
increase of pulse rate are also noted. 
Frequently, a show of recklessness, some- 
times even aggressiveness, marks ad- 
vanced states of the inebriation. 

The famous Yuruparf ceremony of the 
Tukanoans is an ancestor-communication 
ritual, the basis of a man's tribal society 
and an adolescent male initiation rite. Its 
sacred bark trumpet, which calls the Yur- 
uparf spirit, is taboo to the sight of wo- 
men; it symbolizes the forces to whom 
the ceremony is holy, favorably influen- 
cing fertility spirits, effecting cures of pre- 
valent illnesses, and improving the male 
prestige and power over women. The 
Yuruparf ceremony is now little practiced. 
One of the most detailed reports of a re- 
cent dance describes it as follows: 

“A deep booming of drums from 
within the maloca heralded the appear- 
ance of the mystic Yuruparf horns. With 
only very slight urging from one of the 

older men, all females from babes in arms 
to withered, toothless hags betook them- 
selves to the fringing forest, to hear only 
from afar the deep, mysterious notes of 
the trumpets, sight of which is believed 
to spell certain death for any woman . . . 
Payes shamans and older men are not 
above aiding the workings of the mys- 
tery by the judicious administration of 
poison to any overcurious female. 

“Four pairs of horns had been taken 
from places of concealment, and the 
players now ranged themselves in a 
rough semi-circle, producing the first 
deep, lugubrious notes . . . 

“Many of the older men had mean- 
while opened their tangatara boxes of 
ceremonial feathers and were selecting 
wijT great care brilliant feather ruffs, 
VlfiSh were bound to the mid-section 
IgfjJjSe longer horns . . . 

/ >ijOur oldsters, with perfect rhythm 
any^dramatic timing, paraded through 
the maloca, blowing the newly decorated 
horns, advancing and retreating with 
short dancing steps. At intervals, a couple 
danced out of the door, their horns raised 
high, and returned after a brief turn, the 
expanding and contracting feather ruffs 
producing a beautiful burst of translu- 
cent color against the stronger light. 
Younger men were beginning the first of 
the savage whippings, and the master of 
ceremonies appeared with the red, cur- 
iously shaped clay jar containing the 
powerful narcodc drink called Caapi. 
The thick, brown, bitter liquid was 
served in pairs of tiny round gourds; 
many drinkers promptly vomited . . . 

“Whipping proceeded by pairs. The 
first lashes were applied to the legs and 
ankles, the whip flung far back in a de- 
liberately calculated dramatic gesture; 
the blows resounded like pistol shots. 
Places were immediately exchanged. 
Soon the whips were being freely ap- 
plied, and all the younger men were 
laced with bloody welts on all parts of 
the body. Tiny lads not more than six or 
seven years old would catch up the 
abandoned whips, merrily imitating 
their elders. Gradually the volume of 
sound diminished, until only two lone 
performers remained, enchanted with 

Top: Many species of Passion flower 
( Passiflora spp.) contain the active sub- 
stances harmine and harmaline. 

Above right: Syrian Rue (Peganum 
harmala) with fruit capsules. 

Page 128 above: The mural in the 
Cuzco Airport (Peru) reveals the 
visionary world of Ayahuasca. 

Page 128 below: Shipibo Indians in 
traditional costumes decorated with 
Ayahuasca patterns (Yarinacocha, 


Left: A beer mug of the Conibo-Shipibo 
Indians that has been completely 
painted with the Ayahuasca pattern. 

Right: Shipibo women communally 
paint a ceramic with Ayahuasca pat- 

their art, bowing, advancing, and re- 
treating, with great delicacy and grace 
in the center of the maloca. About a 
dozen of the older men were outfitting 
themselves with their finest diadems of 
resplendent guacamayo feathers, tall, 
feathery egret plumes, oval pieces of 
the russet skin of the howler monkey, 
armadillo-hide disks, prized loops of 
monkey-hair cord, precious quartzite 
cylinders, and jaguar-tooth belts. Be- 
decked with these triumphs of savage 
art, the men formed a swaying, dancing 
semi-circle, each with his right hand 
resting on his neighbor’s shoulder, all 
shifting and stamping in slow unison. 

Leading the group was the ancient paye, 
blowing Tobacco smoke in benediction 
on his companions from the huge cigar 
in its engraved ceremonial fork, while 
his long, polished rattle-lance vibrated 
constantly. The familiar, dignified Ca- 
chin' ceremonial chant was intoned by 
the group; their deep voices rose and 
fell, mingling with the mysterious 
booming tones of the Yuruparf horns.” 
The Tukano believe that when, at the 
time of creation, humans arrived to po- 
pulate the Vaupes region, many extraor- 
dinary happenings took place. People 
had to endure hardship before settling 
the new regions. Hideous snakes and 


dangerous fish lived in the rivers; there 
were spirits with cannibalistic procliv- 
ities; and the Tukano received in trepida- 
tion the basic elements of their culture. 

There lived among these early Tukano 
a woman — the first woman of crea- 
tion — who “drowned” men in visions. 
Tukanoans believe that during coitus, a 
man “drowns” — the equivalent of see- 
ing visions. The first woman found 

the sensual, to a mystical union with the 
mythic era, the intrauterine stage, is the 
ultimate goal, attained by a mere hand- 
ful but coveted by all.” 

All or much of Indian art, it has been 
proposed, is based on visionary experi- 
ence. Colors, similarly, are symbolically 
significant: yellow or off-white has a 
seminal concept, indicating solar fertili- 
zation; red — color of the uterus, fire, 

Above: Many species of the genus 8a- 
nisteriopsis, like this 8. muricata from 
southern Mexico, are rich in MAO- 
inhibiting |3-carbolines. Because of this, 
they are particularly suited in the 
preparation of Ayahuasca analogs. 

herself with child. The Sun-father had 
impregnated her through the eye. She 
gave birth to a child who became Caapi, 
the narcotic plant. The child was born 
during a brilliant flash of light. The wo- 
man — Yaje — cut the umbilical cord and, 
rubbing the child with magical plants, 
shaped its body. The Caapi-child lived 
to be an old man zealously guarding his 
hallucinogenic powers. From this aged 
child, owner of Caapi or the sexual act, 
the Tukanoan men received semen. For 
the Indians, wrote Gerardo Reichel- 
Dolmatoff, “the hallucinatory experi- 
ence is essentially a sexual one ... to 
make it sublime, to pass from the erotic, 

heat — symbolizes female fecundity; 
blue represents thought through To- 
bacco smoke. These colors accompany 
Ayahuasca intoxications and have pre- 
cise interpretations. Many of the com- 
plicated rock engravings in the river 
valleys of the Vaupes region are 
undoubtedly based upon drug ex- 
periences. Likewise, the stereotyped 
paintings on the bark wall of Tukanoan 
communal houses represent themes 
from Ayahuasca hallucinations. 

Pictures and decorations on pots, 
houses, basketry, and other household 
objects fall into two categories: ab- 
stract design and figurative motifs. 

Above left: A Shipibo woman paints 
a piece of fabric with her traditional 
Ayahuasca pattern. 

Above right: The jungle pharmacy of the 
Shipibo Indians. Countless medicinal 
plants are taken with Ayahuasca, which 
strengthen the effects. 

“The caji plants 
(Ayahuasca) reveal them- 
selves to the experiencer, 
it grows, becomes green, 
blooms, and ultimately 
vanishes. The moment of 
the blossoming is valued 
as the apex 
of the experience.” 

— Florian Deltgen (1993) 

The Indians know the difference be- 
tween the two and say that it is due to 
Caapi intoxication. “Someone watching 
a man at work or finding a drawing 
would say: ‘This is what one sees after 
three cups of Yaje,’ occasionally speci- 
fying the kind of plant that had been 
used and thus giving an indication of 
the nature of the narcotic effects they 
attributed to different concoctions,” 
speculated G. Reichel-Dolmatoff. 

It would seem that such an important 
drug would have attracted the attention 
of Europeans at a very early date. Such 
was not the case. In 1851, however, the 
English botanist Spruce, who was col- 
lecting among Tukanoan tribes in the 

Above: A Barasana Indian traces in 
sand near his maloca patterns seen 
during the course of Caapi intoxication. 
It has been suggested that many of the 
design motifs induced by Caapi are, on 
the one hand, culture-bound and, on the 
other hand, controlled by specific bio- 
chemical effects of the active principles 
in the plant 

Rio Vaupes region of Brazil, met with 
Caapi and sent material for chemical 
study to England. Three years later, he 
observed Caapi use again among the 
Guahibo Indians along the upper 

Orinoco. Later, he encountered Aya- 
huasca among the Zaparo of Ecuador 
and identified it as the same hallucino- 
gen as Caapi. 

“In the course of the night,” Spruce 
wrote of Caapi, “the young men par- 
took of Caapi five or six times, in the 
intervals between the dances; but only 
a few of them at a time, and a very few 
drank of it twice. The cup-bearer — who 
must be a man, for no woman can touch 
or taste Caapi — starts at a short run 
from the opposite end of the house, 
with a small calabash containing about 
a teacupful of Caapi in each hand, mut- 
tering ‘Mo-mo-mo-mo-mo’ as he runs, 
and gradually sinking down until at last 
his chin nearly touches his knees, when 
he reaches out one of his cups to the 
man who stands ready to receive it . . . 
In two minutes or less after drinking it, 
the effects begin to be apparent. The In- 
dian turns deadly pale, trembles in 
every limb, and horror is in his aspect. 
Suddenly contrary symptoms succeed; 
he bursts into perspiration and seems 
possessed with reckless fury, seizes 
whatever arms are at hand . . . and 
rushes to the door, while he inflicts vio- 
lent blows on the ground and door- 
posts, calling out all the while: ‘Thus 
would I do to mine enemy [naming 
him by name] were this he!’ In about 
ten minutes, the excitement has passed 
off, and the Indian grows calm but ap- 
pears exhausted.” 

Since Spruce’s time, this drug has 
been mentioned often by many travelers 
and explorers, but little has been accom- 
plished until recently,. In fact, it was not 
until 1969 that, chemical analysis of 
Spruce’s material, collected for such ex- 
amination in 1851, was carried out. 

Much remains to be learned about 
Ayahuasca, Caapi, Yaje. There is little 
time before increasing acculturation 
and even extinction of whole tribes will 
make it forever impossible to learn 
about these age-old beliefs and uses. 


Left' This beautiful engraving on a gran- 
ite rock at Nyi on the lower Piraparana 
River in Colombia is obviouslyancient. 
The rapids at this point on the river are 
at the earth’s equator, a zone vertically 
related to the rising and setting constel- 
lations. It has been suggested that this 
turbulent area of the river was the place 
where the Sun Father married Earth 
Mother to create the first Tukanoans. 
The Indians interpret the triangular face 
as a vagina and the stylized human 
figure as a winged phallus. 

Above: The talented Peruvian artist 
Yando, the son of an Ayahuasquero 
from Pucallpa, drew this Ayahuasca vi- 
sion. Notice that the complexities of the 
hallucinations are treated in an imagery 
in which microscopic and macroscopic 
dimensions are skillfully blended. 

y a. 

Right Young cultiv 
(Psyclmlria viridis) 

Ayahuasca Ingredients 

A selection of plants used in the preparation of the Ayahuasca drink to give it its desired 
healing powers or specific qualities: 

Ai euro 

Euphorbia sp. 

for better singing 

Capsicum frutescens 


Erythrina spp. 


Angel’s Trumpet Brugmansia spp. 

to treat delusions, 

illnesses caused by magic arrows 


and enchantment 

Couroupita guianensis strengthens the body 


Psychotria sp. 

for cooling and reduction of visions 


lochroma fuchsioides 

strengthens the vision 


Ilex guayusa 

for purification and treatment 
of vomiting 

Alchornea castanaefolia to treat diarrhea 

Sab ice a amazonensis 

'sweetens” the Ayahuasca drink 

Ceiba pentandra 

diarrhea, intestinal problems 

Chorisia inslgnis 

to treat intestinal problems 


Calathea veitchiana 

to stimulate visions 

Above: Farmer’s tnbacco (Nicoliana 
m::lica) is one of tin- most important 
-.human plants in South America. 

Lygodium venustum 

to strengthen the Ayahuasca drink 

I’mllom: I he truit ol n ;;pecies of Theve - 
ihi called Cabalong.i Nanca is added to 
Ayahuasca to protect the drinker from 
malicious spirits. 


Thevetia sp. 

protects against spirits 


Hura crepitans 


Cat’s claw 

Uncaria tomentosa 

used to treat allergies, 
kidney problems, stomach ulcer, 
venereal disease 


Brunfelsia spp. 

for fever, rheumatism, and arthritis 


Malouetia tamaquarina 

to enable a better diagnosis 


Virola spp. 

strengthens the vision 

Remo caspi 

Pithecellobium laetum 

strengthens the Ayahuasca drink 


Tabernaemontana sananho 

poor memory; 

for spiritual development; 

arthritis, rheumatism 


Himatanthus sucuuba 

to extract magic arrows 


Nicotiana rustica 

for poisoning 


Ipomoea carnea 

strengthens the vision 


Pfaffia iresinoides 

sexual weakness 


Ocimum micranthum 


Piri piri 

Cyperus sp 

fright; promotes spiritual 
development; for abortions 



7: The Chiricaspi bush (Brunfelsia 
grandillora spp. schultesii) is an impor- 
tant shaman plant in the northern 
regions of South America. 

2: Cat's Claw ( Uncaria tomentosa) is 
one of the important medicinal plants for 
treating chronic illnesses among the 
Peruvian Indians. 



3: For many Indians, the Kapok tree 
(Ceiba pentandra) is the world tree. 

4: The bindweed Ipomea carnea con- 
tains potent psychoactive alkaloids and 
is used in the Peruvian Amazon basin 
as an ingredient in Ayahuasca. 

5: The Sanango leaves (Tabernaemon- 
tana sananho) strengthen the memory. 

6: The Palo de Borracho “tree of drun- 
kenness” (Chorisia insignis) is a world 
tree in the cosmology of the shaman. Its 
astringent bark is added to Ayahuasca. 

7: A leaf cutting from Psychotria viridis 
(grown in California). 




The pharmacological agent that has 
been identified in Ayahuasca can be imi- 
tated in plants with similar active ingre- 
dients (harrUaline/harmine, DMT/5- 
MeO-DMT). Nontraditional combina- 
tions of plants with these ingredients are 
today known as “Ayahuasca analogs” 
or Anahuasca. Combinations made of 
the isolated of synthesized ingredients 
are called “pharmahuasca.” 

Jonathan Ott, a chemist specializing 
in natural substances, writes: “Psycho- 
nautic pharmahuasca research is so dis- 
tant from the scientific mainstream that 
it took nearly three decades of no one 
supporting, or independent scientists 
doing ‘underground’ research before 
the enzyme inhibitor theory of Aya- 
huasca pharmacology was put to the 
test. Paradoxically, this research can 
rightfully claim that is stands exactly in 
the center of the research on the bio- 
chemistry of consciousness and the ge- 
netics of pathological brain functions! 

. . . Ayahuasca research is not just on 
the vertex of neuro-scientific research, 
but it is possible that the reversible 
MAO-inhibiting effects of Ayahuasca 
Could present a practical, less toxic alter- 
native to the harmful substances that are 
finding medical uses!” 

The value of these Ayahuasca analogs 
lies in the entheogenic effects that lead 
to a deeper spiritual ecology and an 
all-encompassing mystical insight. Aya- 
huasca and its analogs bring about — but 
only with the right dosage — a shamanic 

“Shamanic ecstasy is the true ancient 
religion, of which modern churches are 
merely pale imitations. Our ancestors 
discovered in many places, and at many 
times, that suffering humanity could 
find in ecstatic entheogenic experiences 
the reconciliation between the cultiva- 
ted intelligence that separates each hu- 
man being from other creatures and 
even from other humans, and the wild, 
untamed, magnificent animal physical- 

ity that we all possess ... It is not 
necessary to have faith because the ec- 
static experience in and of itself gives 
one the belief in the true unity and in- 
tegrity of the universe, and in ourselves 
as an integral part of the whole. Ecstatic 
experience is what reveals to us the 
sublime grandeur of our universe and 
the fluctuating, shimmering alchemical 
wonder that constitutes our everyday 
consciousness. Entheogens such as 
Ayahuasca could be the appropriate 
medicine for hypermaterialistic human- 
ity on the threshold of the new millen- 
nium, where it will be decided if our 
way will be continuing to grow and 
progress or if we will be destroyed in a 
massive biological holocaust unparal- 
leled by anything that has happened in 
our realm in the last 65 million years . . . 
The entheogenic reformation is our 
greatest hope for healing our dear 
Mother Gaia, because it is bringing 
about a true religious revival that will 
help to bring in the new millennium.” 

All formulas for Ayahuasca analogs 
must contain an MAO inhibitor and a 
DMT supplier. 

Until now, most experiments have 
been with Banisteriopsis caapi, Banister- 
iopsis spp., and Peganum harmala. But 
there are other MAO inhibitors in nat- 
ure, such as caltrop (Tribulus terrestris). 
Preferred DMT suppliers include Psy- 
chotria viridis and Mimosa tenuiflora , 
although there are numerous other pos- 
sibilities (see tables). 

Page 136: The German artist Nana 
Nauwald renders her Ayahuasca 
visions in this painting, allowing the 
viewer a glimpse into the “alternate 

Above: Many species of the North 
American plant genus Desmodium 
contain the potent substance DMT in 
their root bark, making them suited in 
the preparation of drinks similar to 

Above: The seeds of the Mimosa scab- 
rella contain DMT and are usable in the 
preparation of Ayahuasca analogs. 


1: The leaf of the extremely rare Acacia 
phlebophylla is rich with DMT. It grows 
only on one mountain in Australia. 

2: The Australian native Acacia maidenii 
contains a high concentration of DMT in 
its bark. 

3: The seeds of the South American 
tree Dictyloma incanescens. This tree 
contains ample amounts of 5-MeO- 

4: The seeds of the tropical Mucuna 
pruriens are preferred by the traditional 
people to make jewelry. In addition they 
contain high concentrations of DMT and 

Ayahuasca Analogs: Plants that contain DMT 

Plant Family 



Gram ineae (Poaceae) 

Arundo donax L. Rhizome 


Phalaris arundinacea L, Grass, root 


Phalaris tuberosa L. (Italian strain) Leaves 


Phragmites australis (Ca\j.)TR. et ST. x 2S Rhizome 


' uwoua/io \uav./ i i i. ci i . ^ ^ Qj 


Leguminosae (Fabaceae) jL 

Acacia maidenii F.v. Muetl. 

uP Bark 

0.36% DMT 

Acacia phlebophylla F.v. Muell. 


0.3% DMT 

Acacia simplicifolia Druce 

Leaves, bark 

0.81 % DMT 

Anadenanthera peregrina (L.) Spag. 



Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) Macm. 


up to 0.34% DMT 

Desmodium pulchellum Benth. ex. Bak. 

Root bark 


Desmodium spp. 


Lespedeza capitata Michx. 


Mimosa scabrella Benth. 



Mimosa tenuiflora (Willd.) Poir. 

Root bark 

0.57-1 % DMT 

Mucuna pruriens DC. 




Diplopterys cabrerana (Cuatr.) Gates 




Virola sebifera Aub. 



Viroia theiodora (Spruce ex Benth.) Warb. 


0.44% DMT 

Virola spp. 

Bark, resin 



Psychotria poeppigiana MUELL. -ARG. 



Psychotria viridis R. et P. 




Dictyoloma incanescens DC 


0.04% 5-MeO-DMT 

5: A species of the DMT-containing 
genus Desmodium. 

6: The Turkey Red variety of the grass 
Phalaris arundinacea contains liberal 
amounts of DMT. 

7; The root bark of the Mexican Mimosa 
tenuiflora (Mimosa hostillis) is full of 
psychoactive alkaloids. The dried root 
bark contains about 1 % DMT. It is 
well suited for the production of an 
Ayahuasca analog. 


Ayahuasca Churches 

In addition to the true shamanic use of Aya- 
huasca, recently various syncretic churches 
have been established that also use Aya- 
huasca as part of their religious rituals. The 
Santo Daime cult as well as the Ayahuasca 
church, Uniao do Vegatal, hold regular 
meetings in which the members — the great 
majority of whom are mestizos from the low- 
er classes— drink Ayahuasca together and 
sing pious songs. Led by a priest, the group 
travels to the spirits of the trees as well as to 
the Christian holy spirits. Many cult mem- 
bers discover a new meaning to life and find 
healing for the soul. For the members of 
these Brazilian churches, which have also 
made headway in Europe, the use of this 
magic potion is just as legal as it is for the 
shamans of the jungle. 

Santo Daime, the ritual drink of a cult, and 
hoasca, the sacrament of another church, 
are both made according to an original 
Indian recipe in which the Banisteriopsis 
caapiv ine and the leaves of the charcruna 
shrub (Psychotria viridis) are boiled to make 
an extremely psychedelic mixture. 

The Santo Daime cult also has mission- 
aries active in Europe, and this Brazilian 
group has been especially successful in 
Germany and the Netherlands. In Amster- 
dam, they have their own church. Also in 
the Netherlands, the potential use of Aya- 
huasca to treat addictions is being tested. 

Juremahuasca or Mimohuasca 

This Ayahuasca analog is known among people knowledgeable in the field as 
a preparation that is the most psychoactive and easiest to tolerate. Per per- 
son, prepare: 

3g Peganum harmala, finely ground 
9 g root husk of Mimosa tenuiflora 
Lemon or lime juice 

The ground seeds of Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala) are soaked in water and 
swallowed or taken in a gelatin capsule. Fifteen minutes later, drink the boiled 
mixture of lemon or lime juice and Mimosa husk. 

After 45 to 60 minutes— often after brief nausea or vomiting— the visions 
begin. They often take the form of fireworks or kaleidoscope-like designs, 
flashing colors, fantastic mandalas, or travels to another world. The effects 
are equal to the effects of the Ayahuasca preparations from the Amazon. 

' Golden Angel’s Trumpet 

' r ~ Blood-Red Angel’s Trumpet 


1: The shamanic use of the gold-yellow 
flowering Brugmansia occurs primarily 
in Colombia and northern Peru. 

2: The flowers and leaves are used by 
many Indian shamans for medicinal 

3: The ripe fruit of the Brugmansia 
sanguinea. This Angel's Trumpet puts 
out far more fruit than does any other 

4: The flower of Brugmansia sanguinea. 

The Guambiano of southern Colombia 
say of Brugmansia vulcanicola: “How 
pleasant is the perfume of the long, 
bell-like flowers of the Yas, as one in- 
hales it in the afternoon . . . But the tree 
has a spirit in the form of an eagle which 
has been seen to come flying through 
the air and then to disappear . . . The 
spirit is so evil that if a weak person sta- 
tions himself at the foot of the tree, he 
will forget everything, . . . feeling up in 
the air as if on wings of the spirit of the 
Yas ... If a girl . . . sits resting in the 
tree s shade, she will dream about men 
of the Paez tribe, and later a figure will 

be left in her womb which will be borne 
six months later in the form of pips or 
seeds of the tree.” 

The species of Brugmansia are native 
to South America. Brugmansia in the 
past has usually been considered to re- 
present a section of the genus Datura. 
Thorough studies of the biology of 
these plants have shown that they de- 
serve to be classified in a distinct genus. 
The behavior of the species — as well as 
their location — indicates long associa- 
tion with man. 

The hallucinogenic use of Brugman- 
sia may have come from knowledge of 
the closely related Datura , knowledge 
that proto-Indian Mongoloids brought 
to the New World in late Paleolithic 
and Mesolithic times. As they migrated 
southward, they encountered other spe- 
cies of Datura, especially in Mexico, 
and bent them to shamanic use. Upon 
arriving in the Andes of South America, 
they recognized the resemblance of the 
Brugmansias to Datura and found their 
psychoactive properties very similar. At 
any rate, everything about the use of 
Brugmansia bespeaks great antiquity. 

Little is known, however, of pre- 
Conquest use of Brugmansia. There 
are, nevertheless, scattered references 
to these hallucinogens. The French 
scientist de la Condamine mentioned 
its use among the Omagua of the Rio 
Maranon. The explorers von Humboldt 
and Bonpland remarked on Tonga, the 
red-flowered B. sanguinea, as a sacred 
plant of the priests in the Temple of the 
Sun at Sogamoza in Colombia. 

Brugmansia arborea, B. aurea, and 
B. sanguinea usually occur above an al- 
titude of six thousand feet. The seeds are 
widely employed as an additive to chi- 
cha. The crushed leaves and flowers are 
prepared in hot or cold water to be ta- 
ken as a tea. Leaves can be mixed with 
an infusion of Tobacco. Some Indians 
may scrape off the soft green bark of 
the stems and soak it in water for use. 

The Brugmansia intoxication varies 
but is always characterized by a violent 
phase. There is probably no more suc- 
cinct description than that of Johann J. 
Tschudi in 1846, who saw the effects in 


Peru. The native “fell into a heavy stu- 
por, his eyes vacantly fixed on the 
ground, his mouth convulsively closed, 
and his nostrils dilated. In the course of 
a quarter of an hour, his eyes began to 
roll, foam issued from his mouth, and 
his whole body was agitated by frightful 
convulsions. After these violent symp- 
toms had passed, a profound sleep of 
several hours’ duration followed, and 
when the subject had recovered, he re- 
lated the particulars of his visit with his 

At Tunja, among the Muisca, accord- 
ing to a report in 1589, a “dead chief was 
accompanied to the tomb by his women 
and slaves, who were buried in different 
layers of earth ... of which none was 
without gold. And so that the women 
and poor slaves should not fear their 
death before they saw the awful tomb, 
the nobles gave them things to drink of 
inebriating Tobacco and other leaves of 
the tree we call Borrachero, all mixed in 
their usual drink, so that of their senses 
none is left to foresee the harm soon to 
befall them.” The species employed 
were undoubtedly Brugmansia aurea 
and B. sanguined. 

Among the Jivaro, recalcitrant chil- 
dren are given a drink of B. sangumea 
with parched maize; when intoxicated, 
the children are lectured so that the spir- 
its of the ancestors may admonish them. 
In the Choco, Brugmansia seeds put 
into magic chicha beer were thought to 
produce in children an excitement dur- 
ing which they could discover gold. 

Indians in Peru still call Brugmansia 
sangumea by the name Huaca or Hua- 
cachaca (“plant of the tomb”) from the 
belief that it reveals treasures anciently 
buried in graves. 

In the warmer parts of the western 
Amazon, Brugmansia suaveolens, B. ver- 
sicolor ; and B. x insignis are employed as 
hallucinogens or as an admixture with 

Perhaps no locality can equal the Val- 
ley of Sibundoy in the Andes of Colom- 
bia for Brugmansia use. The Kamsa and 
Ingano Indians use several species and a 
number of local cultivars as hallucino- 
gens. The Indians of this region, espe- 

cially shamans, have a developed 
knowledge of the effects of these plants 
and grow them as private possessions. 

Usually the property of specific sha- 
mans, these cultivars have native na- 
mes. The leaves of Buyes (B. aurea ) are 
employed mainly to relieve rheuma- 
tism, an effective medicine with its high 
concentration of tropane alkaloids. 
Biangan was employed formerly by 
hunters: the leaves and flowers were 
mixed with dogs’ food to enable them 
to find more game. The tongue-shaped 
leaf of Amaron is valued as a suppurant 
and in treating rheumatism. The rarest 

Above: The seeds of Brugmansia sua- 
veolens are used in Peru as an intoxi- 
cating additive to corn beer. They are 
taken by the shamans in higher doses 
and often produce a delirium that can 
last for days with the most powerful of 

Below: The Blood-Red Angel’s Trumpet 
is often planted in sacred places and 
cemeteries. Here is a large plant grow- 
ing with an image of the Madonna in 
southern Chile. 

The Chemistry of Brugmansia 

The solanaceous Brugmansia arborea, B. aurea, B. sanguinea, B. suaveo- 
lens, and B. versicolor contain the same tropane alkaloids as the Daturas: 
scopolamine, hyoscyamine, atropine, and the various secondary alkaloids of 
the tropane group, such as norscopolamine, aposcopolamine, meteloidine, 
etc. Scopolamine, responsible for the hallucinogenic effects, is always found 
in the largest quantity. The leaves and stems of B. aurea, for example, with a 
total alkaloid of 0.3 percent, contain 80 percent scopolamine, which is also 
the main alkaloid in the roots of Brugmansia. 


cultivar is Salaman, with bizarrely atro- 
phied leaves; it is employed both in 
treating rheumatism and as a hallucino- 
gen. The extreme in aberration is found 
in Quinde and Munchira: these two are 
used as hallucinogens but also in the 
treatment of rheumatism and as emetics, 
carminatives, vermifuges, and suppur- 
ants; Munchira likewise is employed to 
treat erysipelas. Quinde is the most 
widely employed cultivar in Sibundoy; 
Munchira the most toxic. The rare 
Dientes and Ochre find their most im- 
portant use in the treatment of rheu- 
matic pains. 

“A spirit so evil, our grandparents tell 
us, was in these trees with flowers like 
long bells, which give off their sweet 
perfume in the afternoon, that they 
were the food of those Indians at whose 
name people trembled: fierce Pijaos.” 

Culebra borrachero is thought by 
some botanists to be one of those mon- 
strous cultivars. More potent than any 

of the cultivars of Brugmansia, it is used 
hallucinogenically for the most difficult 
cases of divination and as an effective 
medicine for rheumatic or arthritic 

The cultivars Quinde and Munchira 
are most frequently used for their psy- 
choactive effects. The juice of the 
crushed leaves or flowers is drunk either 
alone in a cold-water preparation or 
with aguardiente (an alcoholic distillate 
of sugar). In Sibundoy only shamans 
usually take Bru.gma.nsia. Most shamans 
“see” fearful visions of jaguars and 
poisonous snakes. Symptoms and un- 
pleasant aftereffects probably have 
contributed to the limitation of Brug- 
mansia as a hallucinogen. 

The JIvaro believe that normal life is 
an illusion, that the true powers behind 
daily life are supernatural. The shaman, 
with his potent hallucinogenic plants, 
can cross over into the world of ethere- 
al wonder and deal with the forces of 

Left: A young Kamsa Indian boy of 
Sibundoy. Colombia, holds a flower and 
leaves of Culebra Borrachera prior to 
brewing a tea for the purpose of intoxi- 
cation in preparation for learning the 
secrets of use of hallucinogens in magic 
and medicine. 

Right: The Valley of Sibundoy in south- 
ern Colombia is a location of intensive 
use of Brugmansia. One of the most 
renowned medicine men of the Kamsa 
tribe is Salvador Chindoy. Here he is 
pictured in his ceremonial garb at the 
beginning of a Brugmans/a-induced 
intoxication for purposes of divination. 


evil. A Jivaro boy at the age of six must 
acquire an external soul, an arutam 
wakani, the vision-producing soul that 
can allow him to communicate with an- 
cestors. To get his arutam the boy and 
his father make a pilgrimage to a sacred 
waterfall, bathing, fasting, and drinking 
Tobacco water. Maikoa or Brugmansia 
juice may also be taken to effect contact 
with the supernatural during which the 
boy’s arutam appears as jaguars and 
anacondas and enters his body. 

The Jivaro frequently take Natema 
(Ayahuasca) or Banisteriopsis to acquire 
the arutam, since it is a strong intoxi- 
cant, but Brugmansia must be used if 
Natema is not successful. Maikoa intox- 
ication, the Jivaro assert, may cause 

From all viewpoints, species of Brug- 
mansia have had a difficult time of it in 
spite of their great beauty. They are 
plants of the gods, but not the agreeable 
gifts of the gods, like Peyote, the mush- 
rooms, Ayahuasca. Their powerful and 
wholly unpleasant effects, leading to 
periods of violence and even temporary 
insanity, together with their sickening 
aftereffects, have conspired to put them 
in a place of second category. They are 
plants of the gods, true, but the gods do 
not always strive to make life easy for 
man — so they gave man the Brugman- 
sias, to which he must on occasion re- 
pair. The evil eagle hovers over man, 
and his Borrachero is an ever-present 
reminder that it is not always easy to 
attain an audience with the gods. 

Right. The beautiful flowers of the An- 
gel's Trumpet inspired the Symbolists 
(fabric printed after a design by 
Alphonse Mucha, Paris 1896; original is 
in the Wurttemburg State Museum, 
Stuttgart, Germany). 

Left: This drawing by a Guambiano In- 
dian of the southern Andes of Colombia 
depicts a native woman under a Borra- 
chero tree, Brugmansia vulcanicola. 
The portrayal of an eagle associated 
with an evil spirit indicates the danger- 
ous toxicity of this tree, which causes a 
person tarrying under it to become for- 
getful and to feel as if he were flying. 





Page 145 top: The Peyote crowns take 
on many different forms, depending on 
age and growing conditions. 

Page 145 below: A group of large 
Peyote cacti in their native habitat of 
southern Texas. 

Ever since the arrival of the first Euro- 
peans in the New World, Peyote has 
provoked controversy, suppression, and 
persecution. Condemned by the Span- 
ish conquerors for its “satanic trickery,” 
and attacked again and again by local 
governments and religious groups, the 
plant has nevertheless continued to play 
a major sacramental role among the In- 
dians of Mexico, while its use has spread 
to the northern tribes in the United 
States in the last hundred years. The 
persistence and growth of the Peyote 
cult constitute a fascinating chapter in 
the history of the New World — and a 
challenge to the anthropologists and 
psychologists, botanists and pharmaco- 
logists who continue to study the plant 

lished in native religions, and their ef- 
forts to stamp out this practice drove it 
into hiding in the hills, where its sacra- 
mental use has persisted to the present 

How old is the Peyote cult? An early 
Spanish chronicler, Fray Bernardino de 
Sahagun, estimated on the basis of sev- 
eral historical events recorded in Indian 
chronology that Peyote was known to 
the Chichimeca and Toltec at least 
1,890 years before the arrival of the Eur- 
opeans. This calculation would give the 
“divine plant” of Mexico an economic 
history extending over a period of some 
two millennia. Then Carl Lumholtz, the 
Danish ethnologist who did pioneer 
work among the Indians of Chihuahua, 

Left: The flowering Peyote cactus 
(Lophophora williamsii). 

Right: A Huichol yarn painting shows 
the nurturing and fertile gifts of the 
Peyote cactus. 

and its constituents in connection with 
human affairs. 

We might logically call this needle- 
less Mexican cactus the prototype of 
the New World hallucinogens. It was 
one of the first to be discovered by Eu- 
ropeans and was unquestionably the 
most spectacular vision-inducing plant 
encountered by the Spanish conquer- 
ors. They found Peyote firmly estab- 

suggested that the Peyote cult is far old- 
er. He showed that a symbol employed 
in the Tarahumara Indian Peyote cere- 
mony appeared in ancient ritualistic car- 
vings preserved in Mesoamerican lava 
rocks. More recently, archaeological 
discoveries in dry caves and rock shel- 
ters in Texas have yielded specimens of 
Peyote. These specimens, found in a 
context suggesting ceremonial use, indi- 


cate that its use is more than seven thou- 
sand years old. 

The earliest European records con- 
cerning this sacred cactus are those of 
Sahagun, who lived from 1499 to 1590 
and who dedicated most of his adult life 
to the Indians of Mexico. His precise, 
firsthand observations were not pub- 
lished until the nineteenth century. 
Consequently, credit for the earliest 
published account must go to Juan 
Cardenas, whose observations on the 
marvelous secrets of the Indies were 
published as early as 1591. 

Sahagun’s writings are among the 
most important of all the early chroni- 
clers. He described Peyote use among 
the Chichimeca, of the primitive desert 
plateau of the north, recording for pos- 
terity: “There is another herb like tunas 
[ Opuntia spp.] of the earth. It is called 
peiotl. It is white. It is found in the 
north country. Those who eat or drink 
it see visions either frightful or laugh- 
able. This intoxication lasts two or three 
days and then ceases. It is a common 
food of the Chichimeca, for it sustains 
them and gives them courage to fight 
and not feel fear nor hunger nor thirst. 
And they say that it protects them from 
all danger.” 

It is not known whether or not the 
Chichimeca were the first Indians to 
discover the psychoactive properties of 
Peyote. Some students believe that the 
Tarahumara Indians, living where Pe- 
yote grew, were the first to discover its 
use and that it spread from them to the 
Cora, the Huichol, and other tribes. 
Since the plant grows in many scattered 
localities in Mexico, it seems probable 
that its intoxicating properties were in- 
dependently discovered by a number of 

Several seventeenth-century Spanish 
Jesuits testified that the Mexican In- 
dians used Peyote medicinally and cere- 
monially for many ills and that when 
intoxicated with the cactus they saw 
“horrible visions.” Padre Andrea Perez 
de Ribas, a seventeenth-century Jesuit 
who spent sixteen years in Sinaloa, re- 
ported that Peyote was usually drunk 
but that its use, even medicinally, was 

The Chemistry of Peyote 

The active principle of Lophophora williamsii, the first hallucinogenic plant to 
be chemically analyzed, was already identified at the end of the nineteenth 
century as a crystallized alkaloid (see page 23). Because the dried cacti from 
which the alkaloid was extracted are called mescal buttons, it was named 
mescaline. In addition to mescaline, responsible for the visual hallucinogenic 
effects, several related alkaloids have been isolated from Peyote and related 

When the chemical structure of mescaline was determined, it could be 
produced synthetically. The chemistry is relatively simple: 3,4,5,-trimethoxy- 
phenylethylamine. The model of this structure is shown on page 186. 

Mescaline is chemically related to the neurotransmitter noradrenaline (nor- 
epinephrine), a brain hormone, also shown here. The active dose of mesca- 
line is 0.5-0.8 gram when applied orally, 


Left: Following visions received during 
the Peyote ritual, the Huichol bring 
beaded “Peyote snakes” decorated with 
designs of the Peyote to remote moun- 
tain shrines of Earth Mother as an 
offering of gratitude. 

Right: An old and very large Peyote 
cactus that is addressed as “Grand- 
father'’ by the Indians. Notice the young 

forbidden and punished, since it was 
connected with “heathen rituals and 
superstitions” to contact evil spirits 
through “diabolic fantasies.” 

The first full description of the living 
cactus was offered by Dr. Francisco 
Hernandez, who as personal physician 
of King Philip II of Spain was sent to 
study Aztec medicine. In his ethnobo- 
tanical study of New Spain, Dr. Her- 
nandez described peyotl, as the plant 
was called in the Nahuatl language of 
the Aztecs: “The root is of nearly med- 
ium size, sending forth no branches or 
leaves above the ground, but with a 
certain woolliness adhering to it on ac- 
count of which it could not aptly be 
figured by me. Both men and women 
are said to be harmed by it. It appears 
to be of a sweetish taste and moder- 
ately hot. Ground up and applied to 
painful joints, it is said to give relief. 
Wonderful properties are attributed to 
this root, if any faith can be given to 
what is commonly said among them 
on this point. It causes those devouring 
it to be able to foresee and to predict 
things ...” 

In the latter part of the seventeenth 

century, a Spanish missionary in Na- 
yarit recorded the earliest account of a 
Peyote ritual. Of the Cora tribe, he re- 
ported: “Close to the musician was 
seated the leader of the singing, whose 
business it was to mark time. Each had 
his assistants to take his place when he 
should become fatigued. Nearby was 
placed a tray filled with Peyote, which 
is a diabolical root that is ground up 
and drunk by them so that they may 
not become weakened by the exhaust- 
ing effects of so long a function, which 
they begin by forming as large a circle 
of men and women as could occupy 
the space that had been swept off for 
this purpose. One after the other, they 
went dancing in a ring or marking time 
with their feet, keeping in the middle 
the musician and choir-master whom 
they invited, and singing in the same 
unmusical tune that he set them. They 
would dance all night, from five 
o’clock in the evening to seven o’clock 
in the morning, without stopping nor 
leaving the circle. When the dance was 
ended, all stood who could hold them- 
selves on their feet; for the majority, 
from the Peyote and wine which they 


“In consciousness dwells the wondrous, 
with it man attains the realm beyond the material, 
and the Peyote tells us, 
where to find it.” 

— Antonin Artaud, The Tarahumars (1947) 

drank, were unable to utilize their 

The ceremony among the Cora, Hui- 
chol, and Tarahumara Indians has prob- 
ably changed little in content over the 
centuries: it still consists, in great part, 
of dancing. 

The modern Huichol Peyote ritual 
is the closest to the pre-Columbian 
Mexican ceremonies. Sahagun’s de- 
scription of the Teochichimeca ritual 
could very well be a description of 
the contemporary Huichol ceremony, 
for these Indians still assemble to- 
gether in the desert three hundred 
miles northeast of their homeland in 
the Sierra Madres of western Mexico, 
still sing all night, all day, still weep 
exceedingly, and still so esteem Peyote 
above any other psychotropic plant 
that the sacred mushrooms, Morning 
Glories, Datura, and other indigenous 
hallucinogens are consigned to the 
realm of sorcerers. 

Most of the early records in Mexico 
were left by missionaries who opposed 
the use of Peyote in religious practice. 
To them Peyote had no place in Chris- 
tianity because of its pagan associations. 
Since the Spanish ecclesiastics were in- 
tolerant of any cult but their own, fierce 
persecution resulted. But the Indians 
were reluctant to give up their Peyote 
cults established on centuries of tradi- 

The suppression of Peyote, however, 
went to great lengths. For example, a 

priest near San Antonio, Texas, pub- 
lished a manual in 1760 containing 
questions to be asked of converts. In- 
cluded were the following: “Have you 
eaten the flesh of man? Have you ea- 
ten Peyote?” Another priest, Padre 
Nicolas de Leon, similarly examined 
potential converts: “Art thou a sooth- 
sayer? Dost thou foretell events by 
reading omens, interpreting dreams or 
by tracing circles and figures on 
water? Dost thou garnish with flower 
garlands the places where idols are 
kept? Dost thou suck the blood of 
others? Dost thou wander about at 
night, calling upon demons to help 
thee? Hast thou drunk Peyote or given 
it to others to drink, in order to dis- 
cover secrets or to discover where sto- 
len or lost articles were?” 

During the last decade of the nine- 
teenth century, the explorer Carl Lum- 
hoitz observed the use of Peyote among 
the Indians of the Sierra Madre Occi- 
dental of Mexico, primarily the Huichol 
and Tarahumara, and he reported on the 
Peyote ceremony and on various kinds 
of cacti employed with Lophophora 
williamsii or in its stead. 

Above: Different cacti that are known in 
Mexico as Peyote, Hikuii, Peyotillo, or 
False Peyote. They primarily contain 
the substance mescaline and other 
psychoactive alkaloids. 

Above left: Ariocarpus retusus 
Above right: Astrophyton asterias 
Below left: Aztekium riterii 
Below right: Ariocarpus fissuratus 

Left: The earliest known botanical illus- 
tration of Lophophora williamsii, pub- 
lished in 1847. It has been found in 
archaeological sites more than seven 
thousand years of age. It was probably 
the first and most spectacular vision- 
inducing plant encountered by the 
Spanish conquerors of Mexico. 


“You see how it is when we walk for the Peyote. 
How we go, not eating, not drinking, with much will. 
All of one heart. How one goes being Huichol. 
That is our unity. That is what we must defend.” 

— Ramon Medina Silva 

Left: In Huichol geography, Wirikuta, the 
place of the ancestor-gods, is the local- 
ity of the origin of the sacred life of the 
tribe. Peyote grows here and is col- 
lected on the annual pilgrimages made 
by small groups of devout Huichols. The 
trip to Wirikuta is long and arduous, with 
the pilgrims traveling as Ancient Ones. 
Like the gods, they refrain from food, 
sex, and sleep during this extraordinary 
trip. When they first enter the domain of 
their Paradise, the mara’akame Ramon 
Medina Silva gestures toward Kau- 
kayari (power spots) that once were 
the living forms of the gods. 

However, no anthropologist ever par- 
ticipated in or observed a Peyote hunt 
until the 1960s, when anthropologists 
and a Mexican writer were permitted 
by Huichols to accompany several pil- 
grimages. Once a year, the Huichols 
make a sacred trip to gather Hikuri, as 
the sacred cactus is called. The trek is 
led by an experienced mara’akame or 
shaman, who is in contact with Tatewari 
(Our grandfather-fire). Tatewari is the 
oldest Huichol god, also known as Hi- 
kuri, the Peyote-god. He is personified 
with Peyote plants on his hands and 
feet, and he interprets all the deities to 
the modern shamans, often through vi- 
sions, sometimes indirectly through 

food taken for the stay in Wirikuta is 
corn tortillas. The pilgrims, however, 
eat Peyote while in Wirikuta. They must 
travel great distances. Today, much of 
the trek is done by car, but formerly the 
Indians walked some two hundred 

The preparation for gathering Peyote 
involves ritual confession and purifica- 
tion. Public recitation of all sexual en- 
counters must be made, but no show of 
shame, resentment, or jealousy, nor any 
expression of hostility, occurs. For each 
offense, the shaman makes a knot in a 
string that, at the end of the ritual, is 
burned. Following the confession, the 
group, preparing to set out for Wirikuta— 

Kauyumari (the Sacred Deer Person 
and culture hero). Tatewari led the first 
Peyote pilgrimage far from the present 
area inhabited by the nine thousand 
Huichols into Wirikuta, an ancestral re- 
gion where Peyote abounds. Guided by 
the shaman, the participants, usually ten 
to fifteen in number, take on the iden- 
tity of deified ancestors as they follow 
Tatewari “to find their life.” 

The Peyote hunt is literally a hunt. Pil- 
grims carry Tobacco gourds, a necessity 
for the journey’s ritual. Water gourds are 
often taken to transport water back 
home from Wirikuta. Often the only 

an area located in San Luis Potosf — - 
must be cleansed before journeying to 

Upon arriving within sight of the 
sacred mountains of Wirikuta, the pil- 
grims are ritually washed and pray for 
rain and fertility. Amid the praying and 
chanting of the shaman, the dangerous 
crossing into the Otherworld begins. 
This passage has two stages: first, the 
Gateway of the Clashing Clouds, and 
second, the opening of the Clouds. 
These do not represent actual localities 
but exist only in the “geography of the 
mind”; to the participants the passing 

Right: A Peyote hunter spreads out his harvest at 

Left: The baskets carried to Wirikuta contain only a few 
personal and ceremonial objects. On the return trip they 
are filled with the Peyote buttons collected on the pil- 
grimage. The Huichol say that Peyote is “very delicate,” 
so the heavily laden baskets are carefully transported 
back to the Sierras in order to avoid bruising the cactus. 
Leaning against the basket is a Huichol violin, used to 
provide music for the Peyote dancing. 

Below right: Huichol Indians returning from a 

Below left : A Peyote hunter with a basketful of Peyote 

has seen the deer tracks. He draws his 
arrow and shoots the cactus. The pil- 
grims make offerings to this first Hi- 
kuri. More Peyote is sought, basketfuls 
of the plant eventually being collected. 
On the following day, more Peyote is 
collected, some of which is to be shared 
with those who remain at home. The 
rest is to be sold to the Cora and Tara- 
humara Indians, who use Peyote but do 
not have a quest, 

The ceremony of distributing To- 
bacco is then carried out. Arrows are 
placed pointing to the four points of 
the compass; at midnight a fire is built. 

Page 148 right: Each pilgrim has 
brought offerings to Peyote. After these 
gifts are carefully displayed, the pilgrims 
raise candles in the direction of the as- 
cending sun. They weep and pray that 
the gods accept their offering, while 
Ramon (second from right) fervently 

from one to the other is an event filled 
with emotion. 

Upon arrival at the place where the 
Peyote is to be hunted, the shaman be- 
gins ceremonial practices, telling stories 
from the ancient Peyote tradition and 
invoking protection for the events to 
come. Those on their first pilgrimage 
are blindfolded, and the participants 
are led by the shaman to the “cosmic 
threshold,” which only he can see. All 
celebrants stop, light candles, and mur- 
mur prayers, while the shaman, imbued 
with supernatural forces, chants. 

Finally, Peyote is found. The shaman 

Page 151 left. The Huichol “trinity” of 
deer, maize, and Peyote is a hypersym- 
bolic complex, a concept harkening 
back to the time of creation. This para- 
disiacal era antedates the separation of 
plants from animals, with Peyote repre- 
senting the trans-temporal link with the 
supernatural. On the annual Peyote 
hunt of the Huichol, the pilgrims shoot 
the first found Peyote with an arrow and 
that special Peyote is likened to a dying 
deer and accorded particular chants; 
offerings of maize seeds are likewise 

Page 151 right: The Yaqui Indians of 
northern Mexico symbolize the Peyote 
cactus as a buck, as in this wood 

Right: A Huichol sacrificial bowl deco- 
rated with Peyote designs. 

According to the Huichol, Tobacco 
belongs to fire. 

The shaman prays, placing the offer- 
ing of Tobacco before the fire, touching 
it with feathers, then distributing it to 
each pilgrim, who puts it into his gourd, 
symbolizing the birth of Tobacco. 

The Huichol Peyote hunt is seen as a 
return to Wirikuta or Paradise, the arche- 
typal beginning and end of a mythical 

Above: “It is one, it is a unity; it is our- 
selves.” These words of Huichol 
mara’akame Ramon Medina Silva de- 
scribe the mystical rapport unfolding 
among communicants in the Peyote 
ceremonies that is such an important 
dimension in the lives of these people. 
In this yarn painting, six peyoteros and 
the shaman (on top) achieve that unity 
in a field of fire. In the center of the 
peyoteros is Tatewari, the First Sha- 
man, as a five-plumed fire. 

past. A modern Huichol mara’akame 
expressed it as follows: “One day all 
will be as you have seen it there, in Wir- 
ikuta. The First People will come back. 
The fields will be pure and crystalline, 
all this is not clear to me, but in five 
more years I will know it, through more 
revelations. The world will end, and the 
unity will be here again. But only for 
pure Huichol.” 

Among the Tarahumara, the Peyote 

cult is less important. Many buy their 
supplies of the cactus, usually from 
Huichol. Although the two tribes live 
several hundred miles apart and are not 
closely related, they share the same 
name for Peyote — Hikuri — and the 
two cults have many points of resem- 

The Tarahumara Peyote dance may 
be held at any time during the year for 
health, tribal prosperity, or for simple 
worship. It is sometimes incorporated 
into other established festivals. The 
principal part of the ceremony consists 
of dances and prayers followed by a day 
of feasting. It is held in a cleared area, 
neatly swept. Oak and pine logs are 
dragged in for a fire and oriented in an 
east-west direction. The Tarahumara 
name for the dance means “moving 
about the fire,” and except for Peyote 
itself, the fire is the most important ele- 

The leader has several women assis- 
tants who prepare the Hikuri plants 
for use, grinding the fresh cacti on a 
metate, being careful not to lose one 
drop of the resulting liquid. An assis- 
tant catches all liquid in a gourd, even 
the water used to wash the metate. 
The leader sits west of the fire, and a 
cross may be erected opposite him. In 
front of the leader, a small hole is dug 
into which he may spit. A Peyote may 
be set before him on its side or in- 
serted into a root-shaped hole bored 
in the ground. He inverts half a gourd 
over the Peyote, turning it to scratch a 
circle in the earth around the cactus. 
Removing the gourd temporarily, he 
draws a cross in the dust to represent 
the world, thereupon replacing the 
gourd. This apparatus serves as a reso- 
nator for the rasping stick: Peyote is 
set under the resonator, since it enjoys 
the sound. 

Incense from burning copal is then 
offered to the cross. After facing east, 
kneeling, and crossing themselves, the 
leader’s assistants are given deer-hoof 
rattles or bells to shake during the 


Below: The Huichol shaman Ramon Medina Silva 
silently awaits his Peyote visions. Wrapped in his blan- 
ket, gazing into the ceremonial fire, he sits motionless 
for many hours as he receives messages from the 
gods. He said of the Peyote pilgrimage: “Our sym- 

The ground-up Peyote is kept in a pot 
or crock near the cross and is served in a 
gourd by an assistant: he makes three 
rounds of the fire if carrying the gourd 
to the leader, one if carrying it to an or- 
dinary participant. All the songs praise 
Peyote for its protection of the tribe and 
for its “beautiful intoxication.” 

Healing ceremonies are often carried 
out like the Huichol’s. 

The Tarahumara leader cures at day- 
break. The first terminates dancing by 
giving three raps. He rises, accompanied 
by a young assistant, and, circling the 
patio, he touches every forehead with 
water. He touches the patient thrice, 
and placing his stick to the patient’s 
head, he raps three times. The dust pro- 
duced by the rapping, even though infi- 
nitesimal, is a powerful health- and life- 
giver and is saved for medicinal use. 

The final ritual sends Peyote home. 
The leader reaches toward the rising 
sun and raps thrice. “In the early morn- 
ing, Hikuli had come from San Ignacio 
and from Satapolio riding on beautiful 
green doves, to feast with the Tarahu- 
mara at the end of the dance when the 
people sacrifice food and eat and drink. 
Having bestowed his blessings, Hikuli 
forms himself into a ball and flies to his 
shelter at the time.” 

Peyote is employed as a religious sa- 
crament among more than forty Amer- 
ican Indian tribes in many parts of the 
United States and western Canada. Be- 
cause of its wide use, Peyote early at- 
tracted the attention of scientists and 

bols — the deer, the Peyote, the maize ot five colors — 
all, all that you have seen, there in Wirikuta, when we 
go to hunt the Peyote — these are beautiful. They are 
beautiful because they are right.” (From Barbara 
Myerhoff, Peyote Hunt) 

legislators and engendered heated and, 
unfortunately, often irresponsible op- 
position to its free use in American In- 
dian ceremonies. 

It was the Kiowa and Comanche In- 
dians, apparently, who in visits to a na- 
tive group in northern Mexico first 
learned of this sacred American plant. 
Indians in the United States had been 
restricted to reservations by the last half 


Above left: The roadman in the Native 
American Church officiates at the 
Peyote meeting as a representative of 
the Great Spirit. It is his duty to show the 
"Peyote road" to the participants. The 
roadman in Stephen Mopope’s painting 
holds traditional ceremonial objects as- 
sociated with the religion: the fan, staff, 
and rattle. On his cheek is painted the 
crown of a Peyote plant. In the center 
picture, also by Mopope, chanting parti- 
cipants sit inside the sacred tepee, in 
the middle of which is Father Fire and 
the crescent moon altar. Above the te- 
pee is the Peyote water drum. The 
photograph on the far right depicts the 
Sioux medicine man Henry Crow Dog 
chanting at a Peyote meeting on the 
Rosebud Reservation. 

Above middle: Also by Mopope. This 
shows the participant who sits singing in 
the interior of his sacred tipi. In the mid- 
dle is Father Fire and the sickle shaped 
altar. Above the tipi is the water con- 

Above right: Sioux Medicine Man Henry 
Crow Dog at a Peyote Gathering on the 
Rosebud reservation. 

of the nineteenth century, and much of 
their cultural heritage was disintegrat- 
ing and disappearing. Faced with this 
disastrous inevitability, a number of In- 
dian leaders, especially from tribes relo- 
cated in Oklahoma, began actively to 
spread a new kind of Peyote cult adap- 
ted to the needs of the more advanced 
Indian groups of the United States. 

The Kiowa and Comanche were ap- 
parently the most active proponents of 
the new religion. Today it is the Kiowa- 
Comanche type of Peyote ceremony 
that, with slight modifications, prevails 
north of the Mexican border. This cere- 
mony, to judge from the rapid spread of 
the new Peyote religion, must have ap- 
pealed strongly to the Plains tribes and 
later to other groups. 

Success in spreading the new Peyote 
cult resulted in strong opposition to its 
practice from missionary and local gov- 
ernmental groups. The ferocity of this 
opposition often led local governments 
to enact repressive legislation, in spite of 
overwhelming scientific opinion that 
Indians should be permitted to use 
Peyote in religious practices. In an at- 
tempt to protect their rights to free reli- 

gious activity, American Indians orga- 
nized the Peyote cult into a legally 
recognized religious group, the Native 
American Church. This religious move- 
ment, unknown in the United States 
before 1885, numbered 13,300 members 
in 1922. In 1993 there were at least 
300,000 members among seventy differ- 
ent tribes. 

Indians of the United States, living far 
from the natural area of Peyote, must 
use the dried top of the cactus, the so- 
called mescal button, legally acquired 
by either collection or purchase and dis- 
tribution through the U.S. postal ser- 
vices. Some American Indians still send 
pilgrims to gather the cactus in the 
fields, following the custom of Mexican 
Indians, but most tribal groups in the 
United States must procure their sup- 
plies by purchase and mail. 

A member may hold a meeting in gra- 
titude for the recovery of health, the 
safe return from a voyage, or the success 
of a Peyote pilgrimage; it may be held to 
celebrate the birth of a baby, to name a 
child, on the first four birthdays of a 
child, for doctoring, or even for general 


Left: The Peyote rattle is an important 
instrument for the Peyote ceremony of 
the Native American Church. 

The Kickapoo hold a Peyote service 
for the dead, and the body of the de- 
ceased is brought into the ceremonial 
tepee. The Kiowa may have five services 
at Easter, four at Christmas and 
Thanksgiving, six at the New Year. 
Especially among the Kiowa, meetings 
are held only on Saturday night. Any- 
one who is a member of the Peyote cult 
may be a leader or “roadman.” There 
are certain taboos that the roadman, 
and sometimes all participants, must 
observe. The older men refrain from 
eating salt the day before and after a 
meeting, and they may not bathe for 
several days following a Peyote service. 
There seem to be no sexual taboos, as in 
the Mexican tribes, and the ceremony is 
free of licentiousness. Women are ad- 
mitted to meetings to eat Peyote and to 
pray, but they do not usually participate 
in the singing and drumming. After the 
age of ten, children may attend meet- 
ings, but do not take part until they are 

Peyote ceremonies differ from tribe 
to tribe. The typical Plains Indian ser- 
vice takes place usually in a tepee erected 
over a carefully made altar of earth or 

clay; the tepee is taken down as soon as 
the all-night ceremony is over. Some 
tribes hold the ceremony in a wooden 
round-house with a permanent altar of 
cement inside, and the Osage and Qua- 
paw Indians often have electrically 
lighted round-houses. 

The Father Peyote (a large “mescal 
button” or dried top of the Peyote 
plant) is placed on a cross or rosette of 
sage leaves at the center of the altar. This 
crescent : shaped altar, symbol of the 
spirit of Peyote, is never taken from the 
altar during the ceremony. As soon as 
the Father Peyote has been put in place, 
all talking stops, and all eyes are direc- 
ted toward the altar. 

Tobacco and corn shucks or black- 
jack oak leaves are passed around the 
circle of worshipers, each making a ci- 
garette for use during the leader’s open- 
ing prayer. 

The next procedure involves purifica- 
tion of the bag of mescal buttons in ce- 
dar incense. Following this blessing, the 
roadman takes four mescal buttons 
from the bag, which is then passed 
around in a clockwise direction, each 
worshiper taking four. More Peyote 

Above right: The photograph portrays 
the roadman’s feathered staff of author- 
ity: two smoking sticks for lighting the 
ritual cigarettes, one of which indicates 
in the combination of the thunderbird 
and the cross the melding of Christian 
and Native elements; corn shucks for 
cigarettes; a drumstick; several gourd 
rattles; two Mescal bean necklaces, 
part of the roadman’s dress; a bundle of 
sagebrush; Peyote buttons; a Peyote 
ceremony necktie; a black “Peyote 
cloth,” an eagle wing-bone flute and 
a small pile of “cedar” needles for 


I-"-- T® 

i ^ 


y. " N/ V . K 

m fu n 

Top left: The Peyote Goddess, or Earth 
Mother, of the Huichol in a modern de- 
piction. Her dress is decorated with 
symbols of the sacred cactus. The 
Peyote is her gift to humans in order that 
they may enter into contact with her. By 
knowing her, man learns to respect and 
honor the earth and use her wisely. 

Top right: A Huichol man with the small 
Peyote garden he has planted in his vil- 
lage and which he lovingly cares for. 

Above: A Huichol shaman 
(mara'akame) sings with his assistants 
in front of the temple in which the Peyote 
ceremony will take place. 

Page 155 fop: The ground Peyote is 
mixed with water and given to the parti- 
cipants at the intoxicating ceremony. 

may be called for at any time during the 
ceremony, the amount consumed being 
left to personal discretion. Some peyo- 
tists eat up to thirty-six buttons a night, 
and some boast of having ingested up- 
wards of fifty. An average amount is 
probably about twelve. 

Singing starts with the roadman, the 
initial song always being the same, sung 
or chanted in a high nasal tone. Trans- 
lated, the song means: “May the gods 
bless me, help me, and give me power 
and understanding.” 

Sometimes, the roadman may be 
asked to treat a patient. This procedure 
varies in form. The curing ritual is al- 
most always simple, consisting of pray- 
ing and frequent use of the sign of the 

Peyote eaten in ceremony has as- 
sumed the role of a sacrament in part 
because of its biological activity: the 
sense of well-being that it induces and 
the psychological effects (the chief of 
which is the kaleidoscopic play of richly 
colored visions) often experienced by 
those who indulge in its use. Peyote is 

considered sacred by Native Americans, 
a divine “messenger” enabling the indi- 
vidual to communicate with God with- 
out the medium of a priest. It is an 
earthly representative of God to many 
peyotists. “God told the Delawares to 
do good even before He sent Christ to 
the whites who killed Him . . .,” an In- 
dian explained to an anthropologist. 
“God made Peyote. It is His power. It 
is the power of Jesus. Jesus came after- 
wards on this earth, after Peyote . . . 
God (through Peyote) told the Dela- 
wares the same things that Jesus told 
the whites.” 

Correlated with its use as a religious 
sacrament is its presumed value as a 
medicine. Some Indians claim that if 
Peyote is used correctly, all other medi- 
cines are superfluous. Its supposed cura- 
tive properties are responsible probably 
more than any other attribute for the ra- 
pid diffusion of the Peyote cult in the 
United States. 

The Peyote religion is a medico- 
religious cult. In considering Native 
American medicines, one must always 


bear in mind the difference between 
the aboriginal concept of a medicinal 
agent and that of our modern Western 
medicine. Indigenous societies, in gen- 
eral, cannot conceive of natural death 
or illness but believe that they are due 
to supernatural interference. There are 

two types of “medicines”: those with 
purely physical effects (that is, to re- 
lieve toothache or digestive upsets); 
and the medicines, par excellence , that 
put the medicine man into communica- 
tion, through a variety of visions, with 
the malevolent spirits that cause illness 
and death. 

The factors responsible for the rapid 
growth and tenacity of the Peyote re- 
ligion in the United States are many 
and interrelated. Among the most ob- 
vious, however, and those most often 
cited, are: the ease of legally obtaining 
supplies of the hallucinogen; lack of 
federal restraint; cessation of intertri- 
bal warfare; reservation life with con- 
sequent intermarriage and peaceful 
exchange of social and religious ideas; 
ease of transportation and postal com- 
munication; and the general attitude of 
resignation toward encroaching Wes- 
tern culture. 

In the year 1995 the use of peyote by 
members of the Native American 
Church was made legal by Bill Clinton! 

Above: A modern Peyote bird of the 

Left: A Peyote fan (Navajo) made from 
peacock feathers is used by the Indians 
to induce visions. 





" " Blue Meanies 

Hoop- petticoat 

Dark-rimmed Mottlegill 
® San Isidro 

' ' Wavy Cap 


' ^ Liberty Cap 

Above: One of the largest fruiting bodies 
of Psilocybe azurescens ever found. 

“There is a world beyond ours, a world 
that is far away, nearby, and invisible. 
And there is where God lives, where 
the dead live, the spirits and the saints, 
a world where everything has already 
happened and everything is known. 
That world talks. It has a language of 
its own. I report what it says. The sacred 
mushroom takes me by the hand and 
brings me to the world where every- 
thing is known. It is they, the sacred 
mushrooms, that speak in a way I can 
understand. I ask them and they answer 
me. When I return from the trip that I 
have taken with them, I tell what they 
have told me and what they have shown 

Thus does the famous Mazatec sha- 
man Maria Sabina reverently describe 
the god-given powers of the intoxicat- 
ing mushrooms that she uses in her 
ceremony, which has come down from 
ages past. 

Few plants of the gods have ever been 
held in greater reverence than the sacred 
mushrooms of Mexico. So hallowed 
were these fungi that the Aztecs called 
them Teonanacatl (“divine flesh”) and 
used them only in the most holy of their 
ceremonies. Even though, as fungi, 
mushrooms do not blossom, the Aztecs 
referred to them as “flower,” and the In- 
dians who still use them in religious ri- 
tuals have endearing terms for them, 
such as “little flowers.” 

When the Spaniards conquered Mex- 
ico, they. were aghast to find the natives 
worshiping their deities with the help of 
inebriating plants: Peyotl, Ololiuqui, 
Teonanacatl. The mushrooms were es- 

pecially offensive to the European ec- 
clesiastical authorities, and they set out 
to eradicate their use in religious prac- 

“They possessed another method of 
intoxication, which sharpened their 
cruelty; for if they used certain small 
toadstools . . . they would see a thou- 
sand visions and especially snakes . . . 
They called these mushrooms in their 
language teunamacatlth, which means 
‘God’s flesh,’ or of the Devil whom they 
worshiped, and in this wise with that 
bitter victual by their cruel God were 
they houseled.” 

In 1656, a guide for missionaries ar- 
gued against Indian idolatries, including 
mushroom ingestion, and recommen- 
ded their extirpation. Not only do re- 
ports condemn Teonanacatl, but actual 
illustrations also denounce it. One de- 
picts the devil enticing an Indian to eat 
the fungus; another has the devil per- 
forming a dance upon a mushroom. 

“But before explaining this [idola- 
try],” one of the clerics said, “I wish to 
explain the nature of the said mush- 
rooms [that] were small and yellowish, 
and to collect them the priests and old 
men, appointed as ministers for these 
impostures, went to the hills and re- 
mained almost the whole night in sermo- 
nizing and in superstitious praying. At 
dawn, when a certain little breeze which 
they know begins to blow, they would 
gather them, attributing to them deity 
When they are eaten or drunk, they in- 
toxicate, depriving those who partake of 
them of their senses and making them 
believe a thousand absurdities.” 

1 . Psilocybe mexicana 

2. Psilocybe semperviva 

3. Psilocybe yungensis 

4. Psilocybe caerulescens var. mazatecorum 

5. Psilocybe caerulescens var. nigripes 

Below: In 1979 the largest and most potent mushroom 
in the Psilocybe genus was found in Astoria, Oregon. 
Psilocybe azurescens contains the highest concentra- 
tion of psilocybine of all mushrooms. 

Dr. Francisco Hernandez, personal 
physician to the king of Spain, wrote 
that three kinds of intoxicating mush- 
rooms were worshiped. After describ- 
ing a lethal species, he stated that 
“others when eaten cause not death but 
madness that on occasion is lasting, of 
which the symptom is a kind of uncon- 
trolled laughter. Usually called teyhuin- 
tli, these are deep yellow, acrid and of a 
not displeasing freshness. There are 
others again which, without inducing 
laughter, bring before the eyes all kinds 
of visions, such as wars and the likeness 
of demons. Yet others are there not less 
desired by princes for their fiestas and 
banquets, of great price. With night- 
long vigils are they sought, awesome 
and terrifying. This kind is tawny and 
somewhat acrid.” 

For four centuries nothing was 
known of the mushroom cult; and it 
was even doubted that mushrooms were 
used hallucinogenically in ceremony. 
The Church fathers had done such a 
successful job of driving the cult into 
hiding through persecution that no 
anthropologist or botanist had ever un- 
covered the religious use of these mush- 
rooms until this century. 

In 1916 an American botanist finally 
proposed a “solution” to the identifica- 
tion of Teonanacatl, concluding that 
Teonanacatl and the Peyote were the 
same drug. Motivated by distrust of the 
chroniclers and Indians, he intimated 
that the natives, to protect Peyote, were 
indicating mushrooms to the authori- 
ties. He argued that the dried, brownish, 
disklike crown of Peyote resembles a 

Below: In Europe and North America 
there are countless modern artifacts 
that reflect the contemporary mush- 
room cult. 

Above: Mushrooms with psychoactive 
properties are found around the world. 
In many places T-shirts with mushroom 
motifs are available for the traveling 
mushroom lover. Embroidery from 
Kathmandu, Nepal. 

Above righblUe Psilocybe pelliculosa 
is a relatively weak moderately active 
mushroom from the Pacific North West. 

dried mushroom — so remarkably that it 
will even deceive a mycologist. It was 
not until the 1930s that an understand- 
ing of the role of hallucinogenic mush- 
rooms in Mexico and a knowledge of 
their botanical identification and chemi- 
cal composition started to become 
available. In the late 1930s the first two 
of the many species of sacred Mexican 
mushrooms were collected and asso- 
ciated with a modern mushroom cere- 
mony. Subsequent field research has 
resulted in the discovery of some two 
dozen species. The most important be- 
long to the genus Psilocybe, twelve of 
which have been reported, not includ- 
ing Stropharia cubensis, sometimes con- 

sidered a Psilocybe. The most important 
species appear to be Psilocybe mexicana, 
P. cubensis, and P. caerulescens. 

These various mushrooms are now 
known to be employed in divinatory 
and religious rites among the Mazatec, 
Chinantec, Chatino, Mixe, Zapotec, 
and Mixtec of Oaxaca; the Nahua and 
possibly the Otomi of Puebla; and the 
Tarascans of Michoacan. The present 
center of intensive use of the sacred 
mushrooms is among the Mazatec. 

Mushrooms vary in abundance from 
year to year and at different seasons. 
There may be years when one or more 
species are rare or absent — they vary 
in their distribution and are not ubi- 


Left: The sixteenth-century Spanish 
friar Bernardino de Sahagun 
denounced the Aztec’s sacramental 
use of Teonanacatl, the “wondrous 
mushroom." This drawing, which 
appears in Sahagun’s famous chronicle, 
Codex Florentino, depicts a demonlike 
spirit over crudely drawn mushrooms. 

quitous. Furthermore, each shaman 
has his own favorite mushrooms and 
may forgo others; Maria Sabina, for 
example, will not use Psilocybe cuben- 
sis. And certain mushrooms are used 
for specific purposes. This means that 
each ethnobotanical expedition may 
not expect to find the same assortment 
of species employed at one time, even 
in the same locality and by the same 

Chemical studies have indicated that 
psilocybine and, to a lesser extent, psi- 
locine are present in many of the species 
of the several genera associated with the 
Mexican ceremony. In fact, these com- 
pounds have been isolated from many 
species of Psilocybe and other genera in 
widely separated parts of the world, 
although the evidence available suggests 
that only in Mexico are psilocybine- 
containing mushrooms at present ut j-j 
lized in native ceremonies. 

The modern mushroom ceremony ^ 
an all-night seance that may include a 
curing ritual. Chants accompany the 
main part of the ceremony. The intoxi- 
cation is characterized by fantastically 
colored visions in kaleidoscopic move- 
ment and sometimes by auditory hallu- 
cinations, and the partaker loses himself 
in unearthly flights of fancy. 

The mushrooms are collected in the 
forests at the time of the new moon by 
a virgin girl, then taken to a church to 
remain briefly on the altar. They are 
never sold in the marketplace. The Ma- 
zatec call the mushrooms Nti-si-tho, in 
which “Nti” is a particle of reverence 
and endearment; the rest of the name 
means “that which springs forth.” A 
Mazatec explained this thought poeti- 
cally: “The little mushroom comes of it- 
self, no one knows whence, like the 
wind that comes we know not whence 
nor why.” 

The male or female shaman chants for 
hours, with frequent clapping or percus- 
sive slaps on the thighs in rhythm with 
the chant. Maria Sabina’s chanting, 
which has been recorded, studied, and 
translated, in great part proclaims hum- 
bly her qualifications to cure and to inter- 
pret divine power through the mush- 

The Chemistry of Teonanacatl 

Teonanacatl, the sacred mushrooms of Mexico, owe their hallucinogenic ef- 
fects to two alkaloids known as psilocybine and psilocine. 

The main component, psilocybine, is the phosphoric acid ester of psilocine, 
which occurs usually only in trace elements. Psilocybine and psilocine, being 
tryptamine derivatives, belong to the class of indole alkaloids. Their crystals 
are shown on page 23; their chemical structure on page 186. The chemical 
relationship of these hallucinogens to the physiological compound serotonine 
is especially significant. Serotonine, the molecular model of which is shown 
on page 187, is a neurotransmitter and, therefore, important in the biochem- 
istry of psychic functions. Both psilocybine and psilocine can be produced 
synthetically. The active dose in man is 6-1 2 mg. Twenty to 30 mg induce 
strong visions. 

rooms. Excerpts from her chant, all in 
the beautiful tonal Mazatec language, 
give an idea of her many “qualifications.” 

“Woman who thunders am I, woman 
who sounds am I. 

Spiderwoman am I, hummingbird 
woman am I . . . 

Eagle woman am I, important eagle 
woman am I. 

Whirling woman of the whirlwind 
am I, woman of a sacred, enchanted 
place am I, 

Woman of the shooting stars am I.” 

Above left: In Mexico an unusual saint 
named El Nino is worshiped in the 
Catholic Church. The Mexican Indians 
understand him as an embodiment of 
the sacred mushroom, which they also 
call Nino. (Altar in San Cristobal de Las 
Casas, Chiapas) 

Above right: The tropical Magic Mush- 
room Psilocybe cubensis (Stropharia 
cubensis) was first gathered in Cuba 
and mycologically ascertained. It grows 
in all tropical zones, preferring cow 

R. Gordon Wasson, the first non- 
Indian fully to witness the Mazatec 


In 1958, the famous Mazatec shaman 
Maria Sabina performed a Velada (night 
vigil) on behalf of a seventeen-year-old 
youth, Pefecto Jose Garcia, who was 
seriously ill. 

Left to right: Pefecto awaits the com- 
mencement of the Velada. 

Pefecto stands up at the beginning of 
the ceremony, and Maria Sabina turns 
her head to gaze at him. 

The shaman has incensed pairs of 
sacred mushrooms and hands Pefecto 
the intoxicating plant for ingestion. 

Pefecto has heard the unfavorable 
diagnosis, which Maria Sabina has 
learned through the help of the mush- 
rooms— that there is no hope for his 
recovery. He collapses in terror and 

The shaman and her daughter, adverse 
diagnosis notwithstanding, continue to 
chant, hoping for more insight — even 
though she has learned that Pefecto’s 
soul has been irrevocably lost. 

ceremony, wrote the following under- 
standing thoughts about this use of the 

“Here let me say a word about the 
nature of the psychic disturbance that 
the eating of the mushroom causes. This 
disturbance is wholly different from the 
effect of alcohol, as different as night 
from day We are entering upon a dis- 
cussion in which the vocabulary of the 
English language, of any European lan- 
guage, is seriously deficient. 

“There are no apt words in it to char- 
acterize one’s state when one is, shall we 
say, ‘bemushroomed.’ For hundreds, 
even thousands, of years, we have 
thought about these things in terms of 
alcohol, and we now have to break the 
bounds imposed on us by our alcoholic 
obsession. We are all, willy-nilly, con- 
fined within the prison walls of our 
everyday vocabulary. With skill in our 
choice of words, we may stretch ac- 
cepted meanings to cover slightly new 
feelings and thoughts, but when a state 
of mind is utterly distinct, wholly novel, 
then all our old words fail. How do you 

tell a man who has been born blind what 
seeing is like? In the present case this is 
an especially apt analogy, because su- 
perficially the bemushroomed man 
shows a few of the objective symptoms 
of one who is intoxicated, drunk. Now 
virtually all the words describing the 
state of drunkenness, from ‘intoxicated’ 
(which literally means ‘poisoned’) 
through the scores of current vulgar- 
isms, are contemptuous, belittling, pe- 
jorative. How curious it is that modern 
civilized man finds surcease from care in 
a drug for which he seems to have no 
respect! If we use by analogy the terms 
suitable for alcohol, we prejudice the 
mushroom, and since there are few 
among us who have been bemush- 
roomed, there is danger that the experi- 
ence will not be fairly judged. What we 
need is a vocabulary to describe all the 
modalities of a divine inebriant ...” 
Upon receiving six pairs of mush- 
rooms in the ceremony, Wasson ate 
them. He experienced the sensation of 
his soul being removed from his body 
and floating in space. He saw “geometric 


patterns, angular, in richest colors, 
which grew into architectural struc- 
tures, the stonework in brilliant colors, 
gold and onyx and ebony, extending 
beyond the reach of sight, in vistas mea- 
sureless to man. The architectural 
visions seemed to be oriented, seemed 
to belong to the . . . architecture de- 
scribed by the visionaries of the Bible.” 
In the faint moonlight, “the bouquet on 
the table assumed the dimensions and 
shape of an imperial conveyance, a tri- 
umphant car, drawn by . . . creatures 
known only to mythology.” 

Mushrooms have apparently been 
ceremonially employed in Mesoamerica 
for many centuries. Several early sources 
have suggested that Mayan languages in 
Guatemala had mushrooms named for 
the underworld. Miniature mushroom 
stones, 2,200 years of age, have been 
found in archaeological sites near Gua- 
temala City, and it has been postulated 
that stone mushroom effigies buried 
with a Mayan dignitary suggested a 
connection with the Nine Lords of the 
Xibalba, described in the sacred book 

Popol Vuh. Actually, more than two 
hundred mushroom stone effigies have 
been discovered, the oldest dating from 
the first millennium b. C. Although the 
majority are Guatemalan, some have 
been unearthed in El Salvador and Hon- 
duras and others as far north as Vera- 
cruz and Guerrero in Mexico. It is now 
clear that whatever the use of these 
“mushroom stones,” they indicate the 
great antiquity of a sophisticated sacred 
use of hallucinogenic mushrooms. 

A superb statue of Xochipilli, Aztec 
Prince of Flowers, from the early six- 
teenth century, was recently discovered 
on the slopes of the volcano Mt. Popo- 
catepetl (see illustration, p. 62). His face 
is in ecstasy, as though seeing visions in 
an intoxication; his head is slightly 
tilted, as though hearing voices. His 
body is engraved with stylized flowers 
that have been identified as sacred, most 
of them inebriating, plants. The pedestal 
on which he sits is decorated with a de- 
sign representing cross-sections of the 
caps of Psilocybe aztecorum, a halluci- 
nogenic mushroom known only from 

O J 

“The ninos santos (Psilo- 
cybe mexicana ) heal. 

They lower fevers, cure 
colds, and give freedom 
from toothaches. They 
pull the evil spirits out of 
the body or free the spirit 
of the sick.” 

— Marfa Sabina 


Right: A celebrant depicted in the 
sixteenth-century Magliabecchiano 
Codex is ingesting a pair of hallucino- 
genic mushrooms during a sacred rite. 
Behind him is the Lord of the Under- 
world, Mictlantlcuhtli. The three jade 
green mushrooms in front of the cele- 
brant undoubtedly were painted in this 
color to indicate their great value as 
sacred objects. 


jsL. ' 


era IG? 


Above: Albert Hofmann visited the sha- 
man Marfa Sabina in 1 962 and took 
many portraits of her. 

Page 163: The sincerity and absolute 
faith in the revelatory power of the 
mushrooms is evident in these photo- 
graphs of Marfa Sabina, who, during the 
nightlong chanting and clapping cere- 
mony, feels herself fully in contact with 
the other world, which the mushrooms 
have allowed her to visit. 

this volcano. Thus Xochipilli undoubt- 
edly represents not simply the Prince of 
Flowers but more specifically the Prince 
of Inebriating Flowers, including the 
mushrooms that, in Nahuatl poetry, 
were called “flowers” and “flowers that 

Have psilocybine-containing mush- 
rooms ever been employed as magico- 
religious hallucinogens in the New 
World? The answer is probably yes. 

A species of Psilocybe and possibly 
also Panaeolus are used today near the 
classic Maya ceremonial center of 
Palenque, and hallucinogenic mush- 
rooms have been reported in use along 
the border between Chiapas in Mexico 
and Guatemala. Whether these mod- 
ern mushroom practices in the Maya 
region represent vestiges of former 
use or have been recently introduced 
from Oaxaca it is not possible as yet 
to say. 

Nevertheless, evidence is now accu- 
mulating to indicate that a mushroom 
cult flourished in prehistoric times — 
from 100 b.c. to about a. d. 300-400 in 
northwestern Mexico: in Colima, Jalis- 
co, and Nayarit. Funerary effigies, with 
two “horns” protruding from the head, 
are believed to represent male and fe- 
male “deities” or priests associated with 
mushrooms. Traditions among contem- 
porary Huichol Indians in Jalisco also 
suggest the former religious use of these 
fungi “in ancient times.” 

What about South America, where 
these psychoactive mushrooms abound? 
There is no evidence of such use today, 
but indications of their apparent former 
employment are many. The Yurimagua 
Indians of the Peruvian Amazon were 
reported in the late seventeenth and 
early eighteenth centuries to be drinking 
a potently inebriating beverage made 
from a “tree fungus.” The Jesuit report 
stated that the Indians “mix mushrooms 
that grow on fallen trees with a kind of 
reddish film that is found usually at- 
tached to rotting trunks. This film is 

very hot to the taste. No person who 
drinks this brew fails to fall under its ef- 
fects after three draughts of it, since it is 
so strong, or more correctly, so toxic.” It 
has been suggested that the tree mush- 
room might have been the psychoactive 
Psilocybe yimgensis, which occurs in this 

In Colombia, many anthropomor- 
phic gold pectorals with two domelike 
ornaments on the head have been found. 
They are in the so-called Darien style, 
and the majority of them have been un- 
earthed in the Sinu area of northwestern 
Colombia and in the Calima region on 
the Pacific coast. For lack of a better 
term, they have been called “telephone- 
bell gods,” since the hollow semi- 
spherical ornaments resemble the bells 
of old-fashioned telephones. It has been 
suggested that they represent mush- 
room effigies. The discovery of similar 
artifacts in Panama and Costa Rica and 
one in Yucatan might be interpreted to 
suggest a prehistoric continuum of a 
sacred mushroom cult from Mexico to 
South America. 

Farther to the south in South America, 
there is archaeological evidence that 
may suggest the religious importance 
of mushrooms. Moche effigy stirrup 
vessels from Peru, for example, have 
mushroomlike cephalic ornaments. 

While the archaeological evidence is 
convincing, the almost complete lack of 
reference in colonial literature to such 
use of mushrooms, and the absence of 
any known modern hallucinogenic use 
of mushrooms among aboriginal groups 
of South America, gives cause for cau- 
tion in the interpretation of what other- 
wise might easily be interpreted as 
ancient mushroom effigies from south 
of Panama. If, however, it becomes evi- 
dent that the various archaeological 
artifacts from South America men- 
tioned above do represent hallucino- 
genic mushrooms, then the area for 
their significance in America will be 
greatly amplified. 


“I take the 'little one who springs up out of the earth’ 
(Psilocybe caerulescens) and I see God. 

I see him springing up 
out of the earth.” 

— Maria Sabina 

® e - Hierba de la Pastora 


Right: Salvia divinorum is easy to 
recognize by its square stem. 

Below: A paste made of the fresh leaves 
of Salvia divinorum is chewed slowly, 

Closely associated with the Indian 
mushroom cults is the use of another 
psychoactive plant, Hierba de la Pastora 
(Salvia divinorum). It is not entirely 
clear if it was used in the pre-Spanish 
times. It is possible that it was the 
Pipiltzintzintli of the Aztecs. 

The male or female shamans of the 
Mazatecs of Oaxaca use Salvia divinor- 
um, which is also known as hoja de la 

Page 165 top left: Painted nettle is used 
by the Mazatecs as a replacement for 
Salvia divinorum. 

Page 165 top right: Coleus pumilus is 
considered by the Mazatecs to be re- 
lated to Salvia divinorum. 

Page 165 middle: Salvia divinorum in 
the Mexican rain forest. 

pastora (leaf of the shepherd) or pas- 
tora, in rituals associated with divina- 
tion or healing, generally as a substitute 
for the otherwise preferred psychoac- 
tive mushrooms. Maria Sabina remar- 
ked: “When I am in the time that there 
are no mushrooms and want to heal 
someone who is sick, then I must fall 
back on the leaves of pastora. When 
you grind them up and eat them, they 
work just like the ninos. But, of course, 
pastora has nowhere near as much po- 
wer as the mushrooms.” 

The ritual use is remarkably similar to 
the use of mushrooms. Salvinia divi- 
norum rituals take place at night in 
complete darkness and stillness. Either 
the healer is alone with the patient or 
there are also other patients and possi- 
bly some healthy participants present. 
Before the shaman chews and sucks on 
the leaves, they are held over some 

burning Copal incense, and some 
prayers are said to consecrate the leaves. 
After chewing the leaves, the partici- 
pants lie down and remain as still and 
silent as possible. Salvia rituals last 
barely longer than one to two hours, as 
the effects of the leaves last a signifi- 
cantly shorter time than those of mush- 
rooms. If the visions are strong enough, 
the healer finds the cause of the illness, 
or some other problem. He or she gives 
the patient appropriate advice and ends 
the meeting. 

Salvia divinorum, which is also known 
as Aztec sage, is native to the Mazatec 
areas of the Sierra Madre Oriental in 
the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It grows 
naturally in tropical rain forests in an 
altitude of three hundred to eighteen 
hundred meters. Salvia divinorum, be- 
cause of its limited geographic habitat, 
belongs to the rarest of psychoactive 


plants, but is cultivated by plant lovers 
all over the world. This reproduction is 
achieved with cuttings. 

The Mazatecs take thirteen pairs of 
fresh leaves (twenty-six leaves alto- 
gether) and twist them into a kind of ci- 
gar or chaw, which is put into the mouth 
and sucked or chewed. The juice is not 
swallowed, but the active ingredients 
are absorbed through the mucous mem- 
branes in the side of the mouth. For one 
of these cigars, it takes at least six fresh 
leaves, but one can use eight or ten 
leaves for a stronger effect. The effects 
with the chewing method begin in al- 
most exactly ten minutes and last ap- 
proximately forty-five minutes. 

The dried leaves can also be smoked. 
With this method, half of a fairly large 
leaf (two or three deep inhalations) in- 
duces a strong psychoactive reaction. 
Generally, one or two leaves are smoked. 

Most people who have smoked, 
chewed, or taken a tincture of Salvia di- 
vinorum report very bizarre, unusual 
psychoactive effects, which are not very 
comparable with euphoric or psychede- 
lic substances. There is often perceived 
to be a “bending” of space; and a feeling 
of swaying or out-of-body experiences 
is also typical. 

In the traditional taxonomy of the 
Mazatecs, Salvia divinorum is related 
to two forms of labiates. Salvia is known 
as the “mother” (la hembra). Coleus pu- 
milus is considered to be the “father” (el 
macho), and Coleus blumei is known as 
el nene (the child) and el ahiajado, the 
godchild. The fresh leaves are used just 
as those of Salvia divinorum — that is, 
they are chewed like chewing tobacco. 
This connection gives the Coleus the re- 
putation of being psychoactive plants. 

The Chemistry of Salvia divinorum 

The leaves contain the neocerodan-diterpenes salvinorin A and salvinorin B 
(also known as divinorin A and divinorin B), as well as two other, similar sub- 
stances that have not yet been precisely identified. The main ingredient is 
salvinorin A (chemical formula: C 2 3H 2 80 8 ), which has extreme conscious- 
ness-altering effects with amounts as small as 150-500mg. Salvinorin is not 
an alkaloid. It was first described by Ortega et al. by the name of salvinorin 
(1982). Later, Valdes et al. described it under the name of divinorin A (1984). 
The neurochemistry of salvinorin is still an unsolved puzzle. The ingredients 
have not bound to any receptors in any receptor tests (the NovaScreen meth- 
od). The plant also contains loliolid. 

What Was Pipiltzintzintli? 

The ancient Aztecs knew and used a plant called Pipiltzintzintli (the purest 
little prince) very similarly to the use of Psilocybe mexicana in entheogenic 
rituals. There are masculine and feminine forms of this plant, macho and 
hembra. In the National Archives in Mexico City, there are Inquisition files 
from the years 1 696, 1 698, and 1 706 that mention Pipiltzintzin and hint at its 
intoxicating effects. Various authors have taken this to be Salvia divinorum. 



Above left: Pieces of San Pedro piled up 
for sale in the “witches' market’’ in 
Chiclayo in northern Peru. 

Above right: The fast-growing San 
Pedro cactus develops few, if any, 
thorns when cultivated. 

San Pedro has a special symbolism in 
curanderismo [folk healing] for a rea- 
son: San Pedro is always in tune with 
. . . the powers of animals, of strong per- 
sonages or beings, of serious beings, of 
beings that have supernatural power. . .” 
The San Pedro cactus, Trichocerens 
pachanoi , represents undoubtedly one 
of the most ancient of the magic plants 
of South America. The oldest archaeo- 
logical evidence, a Chavln stone carving 
in a temple in northern Peru, goes back 
to 1300 b.c. Almost equally old textiles 
from Chavin depict the cactus with ja- 
guar and hummingbird figures. Peru- 
vian ceramics made between 1000 and 
700 b. c. show the plant in association 
with the deer; and others, several hun- 
dred years later, have the cactus with 
the jaguar and stylized spirals illustrat- 
ing the hallucinogenic experiences in- 
duced by the plant. On the southern 
coast of Peru, large ceramic urns of the 
Nazca culture, dated 100 b.c.-a.d. 500, 
depict San Pedro. 

The use of Trichocerens was wide- 
spread in Peru when the Spanish ar- 
rived. One ecclesiastical report said that 
shamans “drink a beverage they call 
Achuma which is a water they make 
from the sap of some thick and smooth 

cacti ...” and “as it is very strong, after 
they drink it they remain without judg- 
ment and deprived of their senses, and 
they see visions that the devil represents 
to them ...” As with Peyote in Mexico, 
the Roman Church fought against the 
San Pedro cactus: “This is the plant with 
which the devil deceived the Indians 
in their paganism, using it for their lies 
and superstitions . . . those who drink 
lose consciousness and remain as if 
dead; and it has even been seen that 
some have died because of the great fri- 
gidity to the brain. Transported by the 
drink, the Indians dreamed a thousand 
absurdities and believed them as if they 
were true ...” 

The modern use of the San Pedro cac- 
tus, along the coastal regions of Peru 
and in the Andes of Peru and Bolivia, 
has been greatly affected by Christian 
influence — influences even in the name 
applied to the plant, originating possi- 
bly in the Christian belief that St. Peter 
holds the keys to heaven. But the overall 
context of the moon-oriented ritual sur- 
rounding its use indicates that it is truly 
an amalgan of pagan and Christian ele- 

San Pedro is now employed to cure 
sickness, including alcoholism and in- 





' 'V-' TsSY^nKr.' v \*j. ?■*• 

l^'f# Kf 

S^Sr>!’v\-. ’ '-M\ ■■! 

m^r.0 /x ■ V, l, n 

u «V^i -‘Si 

Top: The San Pedro cactus 
(Trichocereus pachanoi). 

Above left: The flowers of San Pedro 
remain closed during the daytime. 

Above right: In the early evening the 
large flowers of the San Pedro blossom 
in sumptuous splendor. 

Far left: A species from the Trichocer- 
eus genus that has not yet been 
botanically categorized. It grows in 
northwestern Argentina, where it is also 
called San Pedro and used psycho- 

sanity, for divination, to undo love 
witchcraft, to counter all kinds of sor- 
cery, and to ensure success in personal 
ventures. It is only one — but the princi- 
pal one— of many “magical” plants 
known to and used by shamans and col- 
lected near sacred lagoons high in the 

At these lagoons, shamans go annu- 
ally for purification and to visit special 
individuals, experts in sorcery and 
“owners” of divine plants capable of 
awaking, with San Pedro, supernatural 
spiritual powers. Even the sick exert 
themselves to make pilgrimages to these 
remote holy places. It is thought that 
the penitent may undergo a metamor- 
phosis in these lagoons and that the 
plants, especially San Pedro, from these 
areas possess extraordinarily powerful 
properties to cure illness and to influ- 
ence witchcraft. 

Shamans specify four “kinds” of the 
cactus, distinguished by the number of 
ribs: those with four ribs are rare and 
considered to be the most potent, with 
very special supernatural powers, since 
the four ribs represent the “four winds” 
and the “four roads.” 

The cactus is known in northern coast- 
al Peru as San Pedro, in the northern 

Trichocereus contains as its main alkaloid mescaline, responsible for the vi- 
sual hallucinogenic effects. From dried specimens of San Pedro, 2 percent 
mescaline has been isolated. In addition, hordenine has also been detected. 

The Chemistry of San Pedro 

Top left: A ceramic pot from the Chimu 
culture, a.d. 1200. The owl-faced 
female depicted on this vessel is prob- 
ably an herbalist and shaman; she holds 
Huachuma (Trichocereus). Even today 
in native markets, the women who sell 
the hallucinogenic cactus are usually 
both herbalists and shamans, and 
according to native beliefs, the owl is 
associated with these women. 

Top right: There are many herbs called 
“conduro” that belong to different gen- 
era (for example, Lycopodium) and are 
traditionally used as ingredients in the 
San Pedro drink. 

Middle: A north Peruvian curandero 
(healer) sets up his “mesa” for the San 
Pedro ritual on the banks of Shimbe 

Below right : The mesa is surrounded by 
magical staves. They are either from 
pre-Columbian graves or modern repli- 
cas made from the Amazonian Chonta 

Andean area as Huachuma, and in Boli- 
via as Achuma; the Bolivian term chu- 
marse (“to get drunk”) is derived from 
Achuma. Aguacolla and Giganton are its 
Ecuadorean names. 

The stems of the cactus, normally 
purchased in the market, are sliced like 
bread and boiled for up to seven hours 
in water. After the drinking of San Ped- 
ro, other medicinal herbs, the help of 
which is frequently sought, begin to talk 
to the shaman, activating his own “inner 
power.” San Pedro may be taken alone, 
but often other plants, separately boi- 
led, are added and the drink is then 
called Cimora. Among the numerous 
plant additives employed are the An- 
dean cactus Neoraimondia macrostibas, 
a species of the amaranthaceous Iresine, 
the euphorbiaceous Pedilanthus tithy- 
maloides, and Isotoma longiflora of the 
Campanulaceae. All of these plants, ex- 
cept Iresine, may have biodynamic 
principles. Iresine has the reputation of 
curing “insanity.” Brugmansia aurea 
and B. sanguined, two potent hallucino- 
gens in their own right, are frequently 

Only in recent years has San Pedro 
been correctly identified. In early che- 
mical and psychiatric studies in Peru, 
the cactus was misidentified as Opuntia 
cylindrica. Only recently have studies 
indicated the great significance of the 
vegetal additives, an investigation that 
deserves more attention. On occasion, 
magic demands that other additives be 
employed; powdered bones and ceme- 
tery dust are commonly used to ensure 
the effectiveness of the brew. As one ob- 
server has stated: San Pedro is “the cat- 
alyst that activates all the complex 
forces at work in a folk healing session, 
especially the visionary and divinatory 
powers” of the shaman, who can make 
himself the owner of another man’s 
identity. But the magic of San Pedro 
goes far beyond curing and divination, 
for it is believed to guard houses like a 
dog, whistling in an unearthly fashion 
and forcing intruders to flee in terror. 

The principal effects of Trichocereus 
pachanoi have been described by a sha- 
man: “. . . the drug first produces . . . 
drowsiness or a dreamy state and a feel- 
ing of lethargy ... a slight dizziness . . . 
then a great ‘vision,’ a clearing of all the 
faculties ... It produces a light numb- 


ness in the body and afterward a tran- 
quillity. And then comes detachment, a 
type of visual force . . . inclusive of all 
the senses . . . including the sixth sense, 
the telepathic sense of transmitting one- 
self across time and matter . . . like a 
kind of removal of one’s thought to a 
distant dimension.” 

“Four-ribbed cacti . . . are considered 

to be very rare and very lucky ... to 

have special properties 

because they correspond 

to the ‘four winds’ and the ‘four 


supernatural powers associated with 
the cardinal points ...” 

— Douglas Sharon 

During the ritual, participants are 
“set free from matter” and engage in 
flight through cosmic regions. It was 
probably shamans who used the San 
Pedro cactus that a Spanish officer in 
Cuzco, Peru, described in the sixteenth 
century: “Among the Indians, there 
was another class of wizards, permitted 
by the Incas to a certain degree, who 
are like sorcerers. They take the form 
they want and go a long distance 
through the air in a short time; and 
they see what is happening, they speak 
with the devil, who answers them in 
certain stones or in other things that 
they venerate ...” Ecstatic magical 
flight is still characteristic of the con- 
temporary San Pedro ceremony: “San 
Pedro is an aid which one uses to ren- 
der the spirit more pleasant, more man- 
ageable . . . One is transported across 
time, matter, and distance in a rapid 
and safe fashion ...” 

The shaman may take the drug him- 
self or give it only to the patient, or both 
may take it. The aim of this shamanic 
curing ritual is to make the patient 
“bloom” during the night ceremony, to 
make his subconscious “open like a 
flower,” even like the night-blooming 
Tnchocereus itself. Patients sometimes 
are contemplative and calm, sometimes 
break into dancing or even throw them- 
selves writhing on the ground. 

As with so many other hallucinogens* 
here is a plant given by the gods to man 
to help him experience an ecstasy — 
separation of the soul from the body — 
“in a very tenuous, simple fashion and 
almost instantaneously.” This ecstasy 
provides preparations for the sacred 
flight that enables man to experience 
mediation between his mortal existence 
and the supernatural forces — an activity 
establishing direct contact through this 
plant of the gods. 

Top left: Harvested and stored pieces 
of San Pedro continue living and often 
begin growing again after months, even 

Top right : The Wolf’s Milk plant (Pedi- 
lanthus tithymaloides) is sometimes 
added to the San Pedro drink in order to 
strengthen its effects. Sometimes is has 
been said that Pedilanthus is hallucino- 
genic, but this has not been proved. 

Above: The view of the mesa gives a 
clear impression of the syncretic cos- 
mology of the modern healer. Gods and 
deities from different cultures lay next to 
snail shells, archaeological objects, and 
perfume bottles. 



Morning Glory 


Top left: The Ololiuqui vine Turbina 

Top right: Flying Saucers are a favorite 
cultivated strain of the enchanting 
Morning Glory, Ipomoea violacea. 

Above: An early painting of Ololiuqui 
from Sahagun’s Historia de las Cosas 
de Nueva Espaha, written in the second 
half of the sixteenth century, clearly de- 
picts the plant as a Morning Glory. 

Four centuries ago, a Spanish mission- 
ary in Mexico wrote: “Ololiuqui . . . de- 
prives all who use it of their reason . . . 
The natives communicate in this way 
with the devil, for they usually talk 
when they become intoxicated with 
Ololiuqui, and they are deceived by var- 
ious hallucinations which they attribute 
to the deity which they say resides in 
the seeds ...” 

A recent report indicates that Ololiu- 
qui has not lost its association with the 
deity in Oaxaca: “Throughout these re- 
ferences we see two cultures in a duel to 
death [the Spanish and the Indians] 
[with] the tenacity and wiles of the In- 
dians defending their cherished Ololiu- 
qui. The Indians seem to have won out. 
Today in almost all the villages of Oax- 
aca one finds the seeds still serving the 
natives as an ever present help in time of 
trouble.” As with the sacred mush- 
rooms, the use of the hallucinogenic 
Morning Glories, so significant in the 
life of pre-Hispanic Mexico, hid in the 
hinterlands until the present century. 

A Spanish report written shortly after 
the Conquest stated that the Aztecs have 
“an herb called coatl-xoxo uhqui [green 
snake], and it bears a seed called Ololiu- 
qui.” An early drawing depicts it as a 
Morning Glory with congested fruits, 
cordate leaves, a tuberous root, and a 

twining habit. In 1651, the physician of 
the king of Spain, Francisco Hernandez, 
identified Ololiuqui as a Morning Glory 
and professionally reported: “Ololiu- 
qui, which some call Coaxihuitl or snake 
plant, is a twining herb with thin, green, 
cordate leaves; slender, green, terete 
stems; and long, white flowers. The seed 
is round and very much like coriander, 
whence the name [in Nahuatl, the term 
Ololiuqui means ‘round thing’] of the 
plant. The roots are fibrous and slender. 
The plant is hot in the fourth degree. It 
cures syphilis and mitigates pain which 
is caused by chills. It relieves flatulency 
and removes tumors. If mixed with a lit- 
tle resin, it banishes chills and stimulates 
and aids in a remarkable degree in cases 
of dislocations, fractures, and pelvic 
troubles in women. The seed has some 
medicinal use. If pulverized or taken in 
a decoction or used as a poultice on the 
head or forehead with milk and chili, it is 
said to cure eye troubles. When drunk, it 
acts as an aphrodisiac. It has a sharp taste 
and is very hot. Formerly, when the 
priests wanted to commune with their 
gods and to receive a message from 
them, they ate this plant to induce a de- 
lirium. A thousand visions and Satanic 
hallucinations appeared to them. In its 
manner of action, this plant can be com- 
pared with Solarium maniacum of 


Dioscorides. It grows in warm places in 
the fields.” 

Other early references stated that 
“Ololiuqui is a kind of seed like the len- 
til .. . produced by a species of ivy . . 
when it is drunk, this seed deprives of 
his senses him who has taken it, for it is 
very powerful” and that “it will not be 
wrong to refrain from telling where it 
groes, for it matters little that this plant 
be here described or the Spaniards be 
made acquainted with it.” Another wri- 
ter marveled: “It is remarkable how 
much faith these natives have in the 
seed, for . . . they consult it as an oracle 
to learn many things . . . especially those 
. . . beyond the power of the human 

The Chemistry of the Ololiuqui 

Lysergic acid alkaloids are the hallucinogenic compounds of Ololiuqui. They 
are indole alkaloids that have also been isolated from Ergot. Lysergic acid 
amide, also known as ergine, and lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide are the 
main components of the alkaloid mixture in Ololiuqui. Their molecular ar- 
rangement is shown on page 187. The tryptamine radical in the ring structure 
of lysergic acid establishes its relationship with these ergoline alkaloids as 
well as with the active principles of Psilocybe and of the brain hormone ser- 

LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide, a semi-synthetic compound, is the most 
potent hallucinogen known today. It differs from lysergic acid amide only by 
replacement of two hydrogen atoms for two ethyl groups (p. 187). The active 
principle of Ololiuqui (hallucinogenic dose 2-5 mg), however, is about 100 
times less potent than LSD (hallucinogenic dose 0.05 mg). 

mind to penetrate . . . They consult it 
through one of their deceiving doctors, 
some of whom practice Ololiuqui 
drinking as a profession ... If a doctor 
who does not drink Ololiuqui wishes to 
free a patient of some trouble, he advises 
the patient himself to partake . . . The 
doctor appoints the day and hour when 
the drink must be taken and establishes 
the reason for the patient’s drinking it. 
Finally, the one drinking Ololiuqui . . . 
must seclude himself in his room ... No 
one must enter during his divination . . . 
He . . . believes the Ololiuqui ... is 
revealing what he wants to know. When 
the delirium is passed, the doctor comes 
out of seclusion reciting a thousand 

Above left: The very woody trunk of the 
Ololiuqui vine. 

Above right: The capsules and seeds of 
tpomoea violacea are characteristic. 

Below : The European bindweed 
Convolvulus tricolor also contains 
psychoactive alkaloids, although there 
is no knowledge of any traditional use. 

Right: In South America the bindweed 
Ipomoea carnea is used as an inebriant. 
it also has the psychoactive alkaloid 

Above: An ancient Indian Mother God- 
dess and her priestly attendants with a 
highly stylized vine of Ololiuqui, in one 
of the murals from Teotihuacan, Mexico, 
dated about a. d. 500. Hallucinogenic 
nectar appears to flow from the blos- 
soms of the plant, and “disembodied 
eyes” and birds are other stylistic fea- 
tures associated with hallucinogenic 

fabrications . . . thus keeping the patient 
deceived.” The confession of an Aztec 
penitent illustrates the Ololiuqui asso- 
ciation with witchcraft: “I have believed 
in dreams, in magic herbs, in Peyote, in 
Ololiuqui, in the owl . . 

The Aztecs prepared a salve that they 
employed in making sacrifices: “They 
took poisonous insects . . . burned them 
and beat the ashes together with the 
foot of the ocotl. Tobacco, Ololiuqui 
and some live insects. They presented 
this diabolical mixture to their gods 
and rubbed their bodies with it. When 
thus anointed, they became fearless to 
every danger.” Another reference as- 
serted that “they place the mixture be- 

fore their gods, saying that it is the food 
of the gods . . . and with it they become 
witch-doctors and commune with the 

In 1916, an American botanist sus- 
pected erroneously that Ololiuqui was 
a species of Datura. His reasons were 
several: Datura ; was a well-known in- 
toxicant; its flower resembled a Morn- 
ing Glory; no psychoactive principle 
was known from the Morning Glory 
family; the symptoms of Ololiuqui in- 
toxication resembled those caused by 
Datura ; and “a knowledge of botany 
has been attributed to the Aztecs which 
they were far from possessing . . . The 
botanical knowledge of the early Span- 



ish writers . . . was perhaps not much 
more extensive.” This misidentification 
was widely accepted. 

Only in 1939 was identifiable mate- 
rial of Turbina corymbosa collected 
among the Chinantec and Zapotec of 
Oaxaca, where it was cultivated for hal- 
lucinogenic use. The Chinantec name 
A-mu-kia means “medicine for divina- 
tion.” Thirteen seeds are usually ground 
up and drunk with water or in an alco- 
holic beverage. Intoxication rapidly be- 
gins and leads to visual hallucinations. 
There may be an intervening stage of 
giddiness, followed by lassitude, eu- 
phoria, and drowsiness and a somnam- 
bulistic narcosis. The Indian may be 

Above: Depiction of Morning Glories 
and visionary eyes on an ancient Indian 
wall painting in Tepantitla (Teotihuacan). 

Left: Xtabentun, "the Jewel Cordial” as it 
is called, is made out of honey from the 
Ololiuqui flower. 

dimly aware of what is going on and is 
susceptible to suggestions. The visions 
are often grotesque, portraying people 
or events. The natives say that the intox- 
ication lasts three hours and seldom has 
unpleasant aftereffects. Ololiuqui is ta- 
ken at night and, in contrast to Peyote 
and the mushrooms, is administered to a 
single individual alone in a quiet, se- 
cluded place. 

The use of seeds of Turbina, corymbo- 
sa has been recorded for the Chinantec, 
Mazatec, and others in Oaxaca. They 
are known in Oaxaca as Piule, although 
each tribe has its own name for the 

The name Ololiuqui seems to have 
been applied to several plants by the 
Aztecs, but only one was psychoactive. 
Of one, an early report states: “There is 
an herb called Ololiuqui or Xixicamatic 
which has leaves like miltomate [ Physa - 
Us sp.] and thin, yellow flowers. The 
root is round and as large as a cabbage.” 
This plant could not be Turbina corym- 
bosa, but its identity remains a mystery. 
The third Ololiuqui, also called Hu- 
eyytzontecon, was used medicinally as a 
purgative, a characteristic suggesting 
the Morning Glory family, but the plant 
is not convolvulaceous. 

Another Morning Glory, Ipomoea 
violacea, was valued as a sacred halluci- 
nogen among the Aztecs, who called 
the seeds Tlitliltzin, from the Nahuatl 
term for “black” with a reverential suf- 
fix. The seeds of this Morning Glory 
are elongate, angular, and black, 
whereas those of Turbina corymbosa 
are round and brown. One ancient re- 
port mentions both, asserting that 
Peyote, Ololiuqui, and Tlitliltzin are 
all psychoactive. Ipomoea violacea is 
used especially in the Zapotec and 
Chatin area of Oaxaca, where it is 
known as Badoh Negro or, in Zapotec, 
Badungas. In some Zapotec villages 
both Turbina corymbosa and Ipomoea 
violacea are known; in others, only the 
latter is used. The black seeds are often 


Page 174 top: The Cuban stamp on the 
left of Turbina corymbosa was issued at 
Christmastime. T. corymbosa is very 
abundant in the western part of the 
island and flowers in December. The 
Hungarian stamp on the right indicates 
the horticultural importance of Ipomoea 
violacea and its varieties. 

called macho (“male”) and men take 
them; the brown seeds, called hembra 
(“female”), are ingested by women. 
The black seeds are more potent than 
the brown, according to the Indians, 
an assertion borne out by chemical stu- 
dies. The dose is frequently seven or a 
multiple of seven; at other times, the 
familiar thirteen is the dose. 

As with Turbina , Badoh Negro seeds 
are ground and placed in a gourd with 
water. The solid particles are strained 
out, and the liquid is drunk. Revelations 
of the cause of illness or divinations are 
provided during the intoxication by 
“intermediaries” — the fantastical badu- 
win, or two little girls in white who ap- 
pear during the seance. 

A recent report of the use of seeds of 
Ipomoea violacea among the Zapotec 
indicates that Badoh Negro is indeed a 
significant element in the life of these 
Indians: "... Divination about recovery 
in sickness is also practiced by means of 
a plant which is described as a narcotic. 
This plant . . . grows in the yard ... of a 
family who sells its leaves and seeds . . . 
to administer to patients . . . The pa- 
tient, who must be alone with the curer 
if not in a solitary place where he cannot 
hear even a cock’s crow, falls into a sleep 
during which the little ones, male and 
female, the plant children [bador], come 
and talk. These plant spirits will also 
give information about lost objects.” 
The modern ritual with Morning Glory 
seeds now has incorporated Christian 
elements. Some of the names — Semilla 
de la Virgen (“seed of the Virgin”) and 
Hierba Maria (“Mary’s herb”) — show 
union of the Christian with the pagan, 
and clearly an indication that Turbina 
corymbosa and Ipomoea violacea are 
considered gifts from the gods. 

Top: Left are the ocher-colored, some- 
what round seeds of Turbina corym- 
bosa. On the right are the black, angular 
seeds of the Ipomoea violacea. 

Above: The shaman administers the in- 
fusion to a patient, assisted by a young 
girl. The brew must be taken at night in a 
secluded and quiet place. The patient's 
problems will be diagnosed by the sha- 
man from interpretation of what he says 
while under the influence of the plants. 





Above: The seeds of Virola surinamen- 
sis, called Ucuba, are used ethnome- 

Below right: The most important spe- 
cies of Virola in hallucinogenic prepara- 
tions is V. theiodora, of the north- 
western Amazon. Virola is an American 
genus related to the Old World genus of 
the Nutmeg. The tiny flowers of Virola 
have a highly pungent fragrance. 

At the beginning of time. Father Sun 
practiced incest with his daughter, who 
acquired Viho by scratching her father’s 
penis. Thus the Tukano received this 
sacred snuff from the sun’s semen, and 
since it is still hallowed, it is kept in con- 
tainers called muhipii-nuri, or “penis of 
the sun.” This hallucinogen enables the 
Tukano to consult the spirit world, espe- 
cially Viho-mahse, the “snuff-person,” 
who, from his dwelling in the Milky 
Way, tends all human affairs. Shamans 
may not contact other spiritual forces 
directly but only through the good 
graces of Viho-mahse. Consequently, 
the snuff represents one of the most 
important tools of thepaye or shamans. 

Although the sixty species of Virola 
are spread throughout tropical forests 
of the New World and psychoactive 
principles have been found in at least a 
dozen species, it is only in the western 
Amazon and adjacent parts of the Ori- 
noco basin that this genus has been used 
as the source of a sacred inebriant. 

The species most important as sour- 
ces of the intoxicating snuff are V. ca- 
lophylla, V calophylloidea, V elongata, 
and V. theiodora , the last being without 
doubt the most frequently employed. 
Yet locally, V. rufula, V cuspidata, and 
other species may supply the drug. 
There are Indians — the primitive noma- 
dic Maku of the Rio Piraparana of Co- 
lombia, for example — who ingest the 
red “bark-resin” directly, with no pre- 
paration, using V. elongata. Other tri- 
bes, especially the Bora and Witoto, 
swallow pellets made from the paste of 
the “resin,” valuing for this purpose 
V. peruviana, V. surinamensis, V. theio- 
dora, and possibly V. loretensia. There 
is vague evidence that shamans in Vene- 
zuela may smoke the bark of V sebifera 
“at dances when curing fevers” or that 
they may boil the bark and drink the 
liquor “to drive away evil spirits.” 

“Sometimes when they travel or go 
hunting, they say: 

‘I must carry my Epena against those 

so that they do not persecute us.’ 

They take Epena in the night 

if they hear the noises of those spirits 
of the forest. 

They inhale it to drive them away 
• — Ettore Biocca 

Although the mythological signifi- 
cance and magico-religious use of Epe- 
na snuff is indicative of a great age, the 
drug was not known until very recently. 

Perspicacious plant-explorer though 
he was, Spruce failed to discover this 
fundamental psychoactive use of Virola, 
notwithstanding his special study of the 
group that resulted in the discovery of a 
number of species new to science. The 
earliest reference to this hallucinogen 
dates from the beginning of this cen- 
tury, when a German ethnologist re- 
ported on the Yekwana of the upper 
Orinoco area. 

It was not, however, until 1938 and 
1939 that the botanical association of 
Virola with the snuff was made. The 
Brazilian botanist Ducke reported that 
the leaves of V theiodora and V. cuspi- 
data represented the source. The leaves, 
of course, are never used, but this report 
first focused attention on Virola, which, 
until then, had never been suspected as a 


Ebena, Nyakwana, or some variant of 
these terms. In northwestern Brazil, this 
snuff and others are often generically 
known as Parica. 

Unlike the Colombian Indians, among 
whom the use of the snuff is usually re- 
stricted to shamans, these tribes may of- 
ten take the drug in daily life. All male 
members of the group above the ages of 
thirteen or fourteen may participate. 
The hallucinogen is often snuffed in 
frighteningly excessive amounts and, in 
at least one annual ceremony, constantly 
over a two- or three-day period. 

The powder is prepared in a variety 
of ways. Among the Colombian In- 
dians, the bark is stripped from the trees 
in the early morning and the soft inner 
layers are scraped. The shavings are 
kneaded in cold water for twenty min- 
utes. The brownish liquid is then fil- 
tered and boiled down to a thick syrup 
that, when dried, is pulverized and 
mixed with ashes of the bark of a wild 
cacao tree. 

The various groups of Waika have sev- 
eral other methods of preparation. 
Those living in the Orinoco area fre- 
quently rasp the cambial layer of the 
bark and trunk and gently dry the shav- 
ings over a fire so that they may be stored 
for future use. When a supply of the drug 
is needed, the shavings are wetted and 
boiled for half an hour or more, the re- 
sulting liquid being reduced to a syrup 
that, after drying, is ground to a powder 
and finely sifted. This dust is then mixed 
with equal amounts of a powder pre- 
pared from the dried, aromatic leaves of 

Above left: Leaf, flowers, and young fruit 
of the rain forest tree Virola calophylla. 

Above right: A branch of Virola theio- 
dora with flowers. 

The first detailed description and spe- 
cific identification of the drug, however, 
was published in 1954 when its prepara- 
tion and use among medicine men of 
Colombian Indians was described. Ta- 
ken mainly by shamans among the Bar- 
asana, Makuna, Tukano, Kabuyare, 
Kuripako, Puinave, and other tribes in 
eastern Colombia, the drug was em- 
ployed ritualistically for diagnosis and 
treatment of disease, prophecy, divina- 
tion, and other magico-religious pur- 
poses. At that time, Vi calophylla and 
Vi calophylloidea were indicated as the 
species most valued, but later work in 
Brazil and elsewhere has established 
the primacy of Vi theiodora. 

Recent field studies have shown that 
the psychoactive snuff is used among 
many Indian groups in Amazonian Co- 
lombia, the uppermost Orinoco basin 
of Colombia and Venezuela, the Rio 
Negro, and other areas of the western 
Amazon of Brazil. The southernmost 
locality of its known use is among the 
Paumare Indians of the Rio Purus in 
the southwestern Amazon of Brazil. 

The snuff is apparently most highly 
prized and most deeply involved in 
aboriginal life among the sundry Indian 
tribes collectively called Waika in the 
upper Orinoco of Venezuela and the 
northern affluents of the Rio Negro of 
Brazil. These groups are variously 
named, but are most commonly known 
to anthropologists as the Kirishana, 
Shiriana, Karauetare, Karime, Parahure, 
Surara, Pakidai, and Yanomamo. They 
generally refer to the snuff as Epena, 


Once a year, Waika Indians in north- 
eastern Brazil come together from miles 
around for an endocannibalistic cere- 
mony for which a huge quantity of Virola 
snuff is made and consumed. The 
ceremony held in typical round houses 
commemorates the dead of the pre- 
vious year. 

a small plant, Justicia pectoralis var. ste- 
nophylla, cultivated for this purpose. Fi- 
nally, a third ingredigjt is added: the 
ashes of the bark o-f^pc^ma or Amasita, 
a beautiful and ri |hnous tree, Eli- 

zabetha princepb^ujteO : pard outer bark, 
cut into small pieces, is placed in glowing 
embers, then removed and allowed to 
smolder to ashes. 

In more eastern areas of Waika coun- 
try in Brazil, the preparation of the 
snuff takes place mainly in the forest. 
Trees are felled and long strips of bark 
are peeled from the trunk. A copious 
flow of liquid that rapidly turns a blood 
red accumulates on the inner surface of 
the bark. After gently heating the strips, 
the shaman gathers the “resin” into an 
earthenware pot that is set on the fire. 
When the pot of red liquid is reduced 
to a thick syrup, it is sun-dried, crystal- 
lizing into a beautiful amber-red- solid 
that is meticulously ground to an extre- 
mely fine dustlike consistency. This 
powder — Nyakwana snuff — may be 
employed directly, but usually the pul- 
verized leaves of Justicia are added “to 
make it smell better.” 

The Bora, Muinane, and Witoto In- 
dians of Amazonian Colombia and ad- 

jacent Peru use Virola not as a snuff, 
but by oral administration. They ingest 
small pellets or pills made from the re- 
sin to induce an intoxication during 
which the medicine men communicate 
with the “little people.” These Indians 
utilize several species: V. theiodora, 

Vi pavonis, and V. elongata, as well as 
possibly Vi surinamensis and Vi loreten- 
sis. The Bora of Peru indicate that they 
have used a related myristicaceous ge- 
nus, Iryanthera macrophylla, as the 
source of a narcotic paste for making 
the pellets. 

The Witoto of Colombia completely 
decorticate the trunk of a Virola tree. 
The shiny cambial layer on the inner 
surface of the bark and adhering to the 
bare trunk is rasped off with the back 
of a machete, and the raspings are care- 
fully collected in a gourd. This material 
gradually darkens to a brownish red. 
The still moist raspings are kneaded, 
squeezed repeatedly, and pressed over 
a wicker sieve. The liquid that oozes 
through, primarily of cambial sap, has 
a light “coffee and milk” hue. Without 
further preparation, this liquid is 
quickly boiled, possibly to inactivate 
enzymes that might destroy the active 


Waika Indians consume incredible 
amounts of Virola powder, using large 
snuffing tubes made of the stems of 
maranthaceous plants. The tubes are 
filled with three to six teaspoonfuls of 
snuff for each inhalation. 

After a stage of hyperactivity and stimulation dur- 
ing which the participants who have inhaled the 
snuff engage the hekuta spirits, a period of dis- 
turbed somnolescence sets in during which night- 
marish visual hallucinations continue (left). 

Waika shamans frequently employ Virola snuff 

or Epena in ritual curing (below left). The intricate 
relationship between magico-religious and "med- 
icinal” practices of these peoples makes it difficult 
to distinguish the boundaries of the supernatural 
and the pragmatic. In fact, the Indian himself does 
not make a distinction between these two areas. 

principles, and is then allowed to sim- 
mer, with frequent stirring, until its 
volume is reduced. When the liquid 
finally becomes pasty, the vessel is 
taken from the fire, and the paste is 
rolled into pellets for immediate use. 
These pellets may keep their potency, 
according to the natives, for about two 

When the pellets are not for imme- 
diate consumption, they are usually 
coated with a “salt,” as the natives say, 
prepared from any of numerous plants. 
The “salt” is always made by the same 
process. The plant material is first 
burned and the ashes are placed in a 
crude funnel made of leaves or bark. 
Water seeps slowly through the ashes, 
dripping out through a hole at the bot- 
tom to be collected beneath. The filtrate 
is then boiled down until a gray-white 
residue or “salt” remains. The pellets of 
sticky resin are rolled in this powder. 
There is apparently a large assortment 
of plants employed for this “salt,” 
which the Witoto call Le-sa. The le- 
cvthidaceous Gustavia poeppigiana is a 
common source of the ashes for the fil- 
tration. In the same family, the bark of 
the huge tree Eschweilera itayensis is va- 

lued. An unidentified tree of this family, 
known to the natives as Cha-pe-na, is 
used. The woody stump of a species of 
Carludovica or Sphaeradenia of the Cy- 
clanthaceae is reduced to ashes for this 
purpose. The leaves and fragrant inflor- 
escence of the aroid Spathiphyllum can- 
naefolium give an ash that leaches out a 
high-quality “salt.” The bark of a wild 
species of Theobroma, or several small 
palms, probably species of Geonoma 
and Bactris, are similarly used. 

The Bora of Peru strip pieces of 
bark, only from the lower four to 
eight ft (1.5-2. 5 m) of the trunk. The 

A Mahekototen shaman (above) strug- 
gling against death, an ever-present 
threat. The Waika believe that commu- 
nication with the spirit world occurring 
during Virola intoxication enables the 
shaman to stave off death, which they 
explain as the result of the activity of 
malevolent spirits. 

The Chemistry of Epena 

The chemical analysis of various Virola snuffs revealed about a half-dozen 
closely related indole alkaloids belonging to the simple, open-chained or 
closed-ring tryptamine derivatives with a tetrahydro-[3-carboline system. The 
main constituents of these snuffs are 5 -methoxy-A/,A/-dimethyltryptamine 
and Dimethyltryptamine. 6-methoxy-/V,A/-dimethyltryptamine, monomethyl- 
tryptamine, and 2-methyl- and 1 ,2-dimethyl-6-methoxy-tetrahydro-(3-carbo- 
line usually occur only in trace amounts. The alkaloid mixtures are almost 
identical to those isolated from the Anadenanthera snuff powders. 


This is a magical snuff . . . prepared from the bark of a certain tree 
the sorcerer blows a little . . . through a reed . . . into the air. 
Next he snuffs, whilst ... he absorbs the powder 
into each nostril successively . . , 
immediately the witch doctor begins singing and yelling wildly, 
all the while pitching the upper part of his body 
backwards and forwards.” 

— Theodor Koch-Griinbers (1923) 



}['(!, ScfimnS. ex Btk 

■ JUSTlClJc 

! N jieetcrrXvs Jaccjuin^ 
j tX var. stenopfnjLbi Leonard 

hard, brittle outer layer of bark is 
chipped off, leaving only the softer in- 
ner phloem. This layer quickly turns 
brown from congealed oxidized “resin” 
and is vigorously pounded on a log 
with a mallet until it is shredded. These 
shredded sections are soaked in water 
with occasional kneading for half an 
hour or more, when the pot is brought 
to a vigorous boil for another half hour. 
The bark material, squeezed dry, is 
then removed, and the remaining liquid 
is boiled with constant stirring until 
only a thick paste remains. Small pellets 
for ingestion are then made from this 

to be present mainly in the almost col- 
orless exudate from the inner surface of 
the bark, which appears as soon as the 
bark is stripped from the tree. This re- 
sinlike substance quickly turns reddish 
in a typical oxidase-type reaction and 
then darkens, drying to a hard, glossy 
mass.' In specimens dried for chemical 
study, it appears as a sticky, dark reddish 
brown gummy material. This material 
in many species contains tryptamines 
and other indolic hallucinogens. Obser- 
vation of the process indicates that the 
reason for scraping the surface of the 
bark is to obtain all traces of the cambial 

P aste - layer that adhere to it. The drug is pre- 

Fewer plants are used by the Bora for pared from the cambial sap, which is 

preparing the “salt” for coating the pel- quickly boiled, causing coagulation of 

lets: the leaves and stump of a species of protein and possibly polysaccharides, 
Carludovica and of a palm of the genus and then simmered slowly to reduce 
Scheelea. the volume to near dryness. 

The hallucinogenic principles appear The whole process resembles that 


Page 180 left, top to bottom: The Waika 
carefully pick over the leaves of Justicia 
before drying them as an additive to the 
Virola snuff. 

One method of preparing Virola snuff 
starts with the accumulation of the red, 
resinlike liquid on the inner bark and its 
solidification by heat (as shown in the 
photograph of a Waika Indian). 

A Witoto Indian beats the syrup left 
after boiling down Virola resin. 

Page 180 middle and right: Justicia 
leaves are highly aromatic when dried 
and are, on occasion, added to Virola 
snuff. They may, however, also be the 
source of a hallucinogenic snuff. 

Among the Waika, the invariable ashes 
mixed with Virola powder come from the 
burning of the bark of a beautiful but rare 
tree, Elizabetha princeps. 

is. s 

used for isolation of natural products 
from the cambium of other trees, con- 
iferine from gymnosperms, for exam- 
ple, except that ethyl alcohol or acetone 
is now used, rather than heat, to de- 
stroy enzyme activity, which might 
otherwise act adversely on the desired 

The “resin” of Virola plays an impor- 
tant role in everyday native medicine: 
several species are valued as antifungal 
medicines. The resin is spread over in- 
fected areas of the skin to cure ringworm 
and similar dermatological problems of 
fungal origin that are so prevalent in the 
humid tropical rain forests. Only certain 
species are chosen for this therapeutic 
use — a nd the choice seems not to have 
any relationship to the hallucinogenic 
properties of the species. 

Indians who are familiar with Virola 
trees from the point of view of their 

hallucinogenic potency exhibit uncanny 
knowledge of different “kinds” — which 
to a botanist appear to be indistinguish- 
able as to species. Before stripping the 
bark from a trunk, they are able to pre- 
dict how long the exudate will take to 
turn red, whether it will be mild or 
peppery to the tongue when tasted, 
how long it will retain its potency 
when made into snuff, and many other 
hidden characteristics. Whether these 
subtle differences are due to age of the 
tree, season of the year, ecological si- 
tuations, conditions of flowering or 
fruiting, or other environmental or 
physiological factors it is at present im- 
possible to say — but there is no doubt 
about the Indian’s expertness in recog- 
nizing these differences, for which he 
often has a terminology, so significant 
in his hallucinogenic and medicinal use 
of the trees. 

Above left: Indians under Virola intoxi- 
cation characteristically have faraway, 
dreamlike expressions that are, of 
course, due to the active principles of 
the drug, but which the natives believe 
are associated with the temporary ab- 
sence of the shamans’ souls as they 
travel to distant places. The chants dur- 
ing the incessant dancing performed by 
shamans may at times reflect conver- 
sations with spirit forces. This transpor- 
tation of the soul to other realms repre- 
sents to the Waika one of the most 
significant values of the effects of this 

Above right: The leaves of Justicia pec- 
toralis var. stenophylla are an important 
ingredient in the snuff that is made from 
the Virola. 


Pituri Bush 


Above: Pituri bushes are represented by 
the gray dots on this painting by Abori- 
ginal artist Walangari Karntawarra Ja- 
kamarra (detail from oil painting, 1994). 

The psychoactive use of Pituri is prob- 
ably the longest continuous use of a 
psychoactive substance in the history 
of humanity. The Australian Aborigines 
have the longest continuous culture of 
the world. The ancestors of todays 
Aborigines chewed Pituri 40,000 to 
60,000 years ago. 

Pituri refers in the broadest sense to all 
plants or plant materials with additional 
ingredients that are used for hedonistic 
or magical purposes by the Australian 
Aborigines. Generally, the term Pituri 
refers to a plant from the nightshade 
family, Duboisia hopwoodii. 

Usually, the Pituri leaves are mixed 
with alkaline plant ashes and chewed 
like chewing tobacco. Pituri removes 
hunger and thirst and induces intense 
dreams, which is probably why the 
Aborigines use Pituri as a magic sub- 
stance. In the Aboriginal magic, enter- 
ing the dream state, the transcendent 

Below: The trunk of the Pituri bush. 


The Chemistry of Pituri 

primal condition of being is an essential 
concept. This dream state is an altered 
state of consciousness. 

In this dream state, all magical 
processes and acts affect the "normal 
consciousness.” It seems as if there are 
various types of Pituri for various uses 
and each of these varieties is linked with 
various songs, totems, and appropriate 
“dream songs” or “songlines.” There 
are some songlines that are sung as 
“Pituri-songs.” Pituri has a connection 
to the place that it grows. There is even 
a Pituri clan. Pituri carries with it the 
“dream of the place” where it grows 
and can instill it into humans. 

The Pituri bush (Duboisia hopwoo- 
dii) was described by the German- 
Australian- botanist Ferdinand J. H. 
von Muller (1825-1896). The plants, as 
well as the dried or fermented leaves, 
play a significant role in the domestic 

Duboisia hopwoodii contains various strongly stimulating but also toxic alka- 
loids (piturin, D-nor-nicotine and nicotine): D-nor-nicotine seems to be the 
main active substance, and myosimin, A/-formylnornicotine, cotinin, A/-acetyl- 
nornicotine, anabasine, anabatin, anatalline, and bipyridyl are also present. 

The hallucinogenic tropanalkaloid hyoscyamine has been discovered in the 
roots, as well as traces of scopalamine, nicotine, nornicotine, metanicotine, 
myosmine, and A/-formylnornicotine. Duboisia myoporoides contains large 
quantities of scopolamine. 

Plants Whose Ashes Are Added to Pituri 


Grevillea striata R. BR. (Ijinyja) 
Mimosaceae (Leguminosae) 

Acacia aneura F. Muell. ex Benth. (Mulga) 
Acacia coriacea DC. (Awintha) 

Acacia kempeana F. Muell. (Witchitty bush) 
Acacia lingulata A. Cunn. ex. Benth. 

Acacia pruinocarpa 
Acacia saiicina Lindley 
Caesalpiniaceae (Leguminosae) 

Cassia spp. 


VentHago viminalis Hook. (Atnyira) 


Eucalyptus microtheca F. Muell. (Angkirra) 
Eucalyptus spp. (Gums) 

Eucalyptus sp. (Red gum) 

Melaleuca sp. 

economy as a valuable good for barter. 
Although Duboisia hopwoodii is wide- 
spread in Australia, some areas are bet- 
ter for collection and harvesting than 
others. The leaves are filled with the 
power of the land in which they grow. 
Before the Aborigines had contact with 
Europeans, there was a far-reaching 
trading system in the central desert, 
which gave rise to the so-called Pituri 
roads and paths. 

Various additives are mixed with the 
dried or fermented leaves and chewed. 
One will use plant ashes, another uses 
animal hair to hold the material to- 
gether: plant fibers, yellow ochre, euca- 
lyptus resin, and, most recently, sugar. 
The effects of the various Pituri pre- 
parations differ markedly. Some are 
arousing, while others are weak stimu- 
lants; some are euphoric, while others 
can induce visions. 

Top: The Pituri bush. 

Middle: The fermented Pituri leaves. 

Bottom: The Goodenia is a Pituri repla- 
cement for the leaves of Duboisia 
hopwoodii. Plants of the genus Goode- 
nia are ethnobotanically significant 
medicinal and nutritional plants for the 



Chemical determination of the molecular struc- 
ture of the hallucinogenic principles in sacred 
plants has led to remarkable results. 

Almost all plant hallucinogens contain the ele- 
ment nitrogen and therefore belong to the large 
class of chemical compounds known as alkaloids. 

divinorum are the most significant examples that 
do not contain nitrogen. The main active principle 
of Cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 
while the main active principle of Salvia divinor- 
um is salvinorin. 

The principal plant hallucinogens are closely 

related in their chemical structure to hormones 
present in the brain — that is, to physiological 
agents that play a role in the biochemistry of men- 
tal functions. 

The active principle in the Peyote cactus is the 
alkaloid mescaline, a compound closely related 
to the brain-hormone norepinephrine (noradre- 
naline). Norepinephrine belongs to the group 
of physiological agents known as neurotransmit- 
ters because they function in the chemical trans- 
mission of impulses between neurons (nerve 

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) 

The term alkaloid is used by chemists for the ni- 
trogenous metabolic products of plants that have 
alkaline properties and are therefore “alkali-like” 
(alkaloid). Among the more important plants with 
psychoactive properties, only Hemp and Salvia 


The molecular models of hallucinogens on pages 186-87 show the che- 
mical elements of which these substances consist and the manner in 
which the atoms of these elements are related to one another in the 
molecules. The black balls mean carbon atoms, the white hydrogen, the 
red oxygen, the green nitrogen, and the yellow ball in the psilocybine 
molecule indicates a phosphoric atom. There is, in fact, no space be- 
tween atoms connected with each other; they touch. Moreover, atoms of 
various elements are of different sizes. Only the especially small size of 
the hydrogen atoms has been indicated in these models. 

It is hardly possible to imagine the real dimension of atoms and 
molecules: 0.1 mg (a tenth of a thousandth of a gram) of a hallucinogen, 
barely visible, consists of about 2 x 1 0' 7 (= 200,000,000,000,000,000) 


cells). Mescaline and norepinephrine have the 
same basic chemical structure. Both are deri- 
vatives of a substance known to chemists as 
phenylethylamine. Another derivative of pheny- 
lethylamine is the essential amino acid phenyla- 

Recent studies show differences in the internal structure of wood between 
Cannabis sativa (far left) and C. indica. As shown in these microscopic cross- 
sections, one of the most significant differences is the usually single condu- 
cive vessels in the former species as contrasted with the consistently grouped 
vessels in the latter. 

THC, found only in Cannabis, is concentrated in the resin and is absent 
from the woody tissue, which for this reason is specifically exempted from 
control in American Cannabis legislation. 

lanine, which is widely distributed in the human 

The models of mescaline and noradrenaline 
molecules on page 186 clearly show the close re- 
lationship in chemical structure of these two 

Psilocybine and psilocine, the active principles 
of Teonanacatl, the hallucinogenic Mexican mush- 
rooms, are derived from the same basic compound 
as the brain hormone serotonine: tryptamine. 
Tryptamine also is the basic compound of an es- 
sential amino acid, which is tryptophane. The re- 
lationship can be clearly seen in the molecular 
models shown on page 186. 

There is another Mexican sacred plant, Ololiu- 
qui (Morning Glory), the hallucinogenic princi- 
ples of which are derivatives of tryptamine. In 
this case, tryptamine is incorporated in a complex 
ring structure that has been called ergolin. The 
molecular models on page 187 show the structur- 
al relationship between lysergic acid amide and 
lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide (the two prin- 
cipal active constituents of Ololiuqui), the neu- 
rotransmitter serotonine, and psilocybine and 

That the important plant hallucinogens and the 
brain hormones serotonine and noradrenaline 
have the same basic structure cannot be due to 
mere chance. This astounding relationship may 
explain the psychotropic potency of these halluci- 
nogens. Having; the same basic structure, these 
hallucinogens may act at the same sites in the ner- 
vous system as the above-mentioned brain hor- 
mones, like similar keys fitting the same lock. As 
a result, the psychophysiological functions asso- 
ciated with those brain sites are altered, sup- 
pressed, stimulated, or otherwise modified. 

The ability of hallucinogens to produce changes 
in brain function is due not only to their having a 
particular chemical composition, but also to the 
peculiar spatial arrangement of the atoms in their 
molecules. This can be seen very clearly in the case 
of the most powerful hallucinogen known today, 
lysergic acid diethylamide. LSD may be regarded 
as a chemically modified form of an active princi- 
ple in Ololiuqui. The only difference between the 
semi-synthetic drug lysergic acid diethylamide 
and the natural Ololiuqui hallucinogen lysergic 
acid amide is that two hydrogen atoms of the 


Peyotl (Lophophora williamsii) 

amide have been replaced in the diethylamide by 
two ethyl groups. With LSD, a dose of 0.05 milli- 
gram will produce a deep hallucinogenic intoxica- 
tion of some hours’ duration. With iso-LSD, 
which differs from LSD only in the spatial ar- 
rangement of the atoms, ten times that dose has 
no effect whatsoever. 

The molecular models of LSD and iso-LSD on 
page 187 show that, while the atoms are linked to 
each other in the same way, their spatial arrange- 
ment is different. 

Molecules differing only in spatial arrangement 
are known as stereoisomers. Stereoisomers can 
exist only with molecules that are asymmetrical 
in structure, and one of the theoretically possible 
spatial arrangements is in general more active. 

(a brain hormone) 

Next to chemical composition, spatial configura- 
tion plays the most crucial role in determining not 
only hallucinogenic but also general pharmacolo- 
gical activity. 

(hallucinogenic principle of Teonanacatl) 


(hallucinogenic principle of Teonanacatl) 



(vision-causing hallucinogenic principle of 


Dr. Albert Hofmann, born 1906, discoverer of 
LSD and the hallucinogenic principles of Teona- 
nacatl and of Ololiuqui, is shown here with the 
molecular model of LSD in his pharmaceutic- 
chemical research laboratory, Sandoz, Basel, 
Switzerland, 1943. 

Page 186: The comparison between Mescaline 
and Noradrenaline and between Psilocybine and 
Psilocine with Serotonine shows the relationship 
in the chemical structure between the hallucino- 
gens and brain hormones. 

The close chemical relationship between the 
active principles of Ololiuqui and LSD, the most 
potent hallucinogen known today, is evident 
when comparing the molecular models of Lyser- 
gic Acid Amide and Lysergic Acid Hydroxyethy- 
lamide with Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. 

Lysergic Acid Hydroxyethylamide 
(hallucinogenic principle of 

Lysergic acid amide 
(hallucinogenic principle of 


(semi-synthetic compound) 


(semi-synthetic hallucinogen) 

(a brain hormone) 

The active properties of hallucinogens are due 
not only to their composition with certain atoms; 
the spatial arrangement of the atoms in the 
molecule is equally important in determining 
the hallucinogenic effects. As an example, LSD 
and iso-LSD (at right) consist of the same ele- 
ments, but they differ in the spatial arrangement 
of the diethylamide group. In comparison to 
LSD, iso-LSD is practically without hallucino- 
genic effect. 


The use of pure hallucinogenic compounds in 
medicine has the same basis as the use of the 
source plants in magico-rehgious ceremonies. 
The effects in both cases consist of profound psy- 
chic alterations in the experience of reality. Not 
only is perception of the outside world affected, 


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but perception of the subject’s own personality is 
also transformed. The changes in sensory experi- 
ence of the outside world are due to a shift in sen- 
sitivity of the sense organs. Sensory perception, 
particularly with regard to vision and hearing, is 
stimulated by hallucinogens. These changes in 
self-awareness indicate the profound influence of 
the drugs, which affect the very core of our being: 

Our experience of reality is incomprehensible 

without a subject, an ego, that perceives this rea- 
lity. The subjective experience of so-called objec- 
tive reality is the result of interactions between 
external sensory signals, mediated by the sense or- 
gans, and the ego, which brings this information 
to the level of conscious awareness. In this situa- 
tion, one can think of the external world as a sen- 
der of information or signals and the deep self as a 
receiver. The translator in this case is the ego. In 
the absence of one of these — either the sender or 
the receiver — reality does not exist. There is no 
music on the radio, and the screen is blank. If we 
adhere to this concept of reality as the product of 
the interaction between sender and receiver, the 
perception of a different reality under the influ- 
ence of hallucinogens may be explained by the 
fact that the brain, which is the site of conscious- 
ness, undergoes dramatic biochemical changes. 
The receiver is thus set for wavelengths other than 
those associated with normal, everyday reality. 
From this perspective, the subjective experience 
of reality is infinite, depending on the capacity of 
the receiver, which can be greatly changed 
through biochemical modification of the brain 

In general, we experience life from a rather lim- 
ited point of view. This is the so-called normal 
state. However, through hallucinogens the per- 
ception of reality can be strongly changed and ex- 
panded. These different aspects or levels of one 
and the same reality are not mutually exclusive. 
They form an all-encompassing, timeless, trans- 
cendental reality. 

The possibility of changing the wavelength 
setting on the “ego receiver,” and, with this, to 
produce changes in the awareness of reality, con- 
stitutes the real significance of hallucinogens. This 
ability to create new and different images of the 
world is why hallucinogenic plants were, and still 
are, regarded as sacred. 

What is the essential, characteristic difference 
between everyday reality and the images seen 
during hallucinogenic inebriation? In normal 
states of consciousness— in everyday reality — 
ego and outside world are separated; one stands 
face to face with the outside world; it has become 
an object. Under the influence of hallucinogens, 
the borderline between the experiencing ego and 
the outside world disappears or becomes blurred, 


Below: Visionary experiences produced by hallucinogens are a source of in- 
spiration for painters. These two watercolors by Christian Ratsch emerged 
after taking LSD and show the mystical character of the experience. 

Page 188: The first treatise on inebriants is apparently the doctoral thesis of 
Alander, a student of Linnaeus, who is the father of modern botany. This 
thesis, defended in 1762 at Uppsala, was a mixture of scientific and pseudo- 
scientific information. An observer present at the thesis defense may have 
doodled these profiles, possibly depicting the academic examiners. 

depending on the degree of inebriation. A feed- 
back mechanism is set up between receiver and 
sender. Part of the ego reaches out to the external 
world, into the objects around us; they begin to 
come to life, acquiring a deeper and different 
meaning. This may be a joyful experience or a 

ecstasy known as the unio mystica or, in the ex- 
perience of Eastern religious life, as samadhi or 
satori. In both of these states, a reality is experi- 
enced that is illuminated by that transcendental 
reality in which creation and ego, sender and re- 
ceiver, are One. 

demonic one, involving the loss of the trusted 
ego. The new ego feels linked in bliss with out- 
side objects in a special way and also with other 
human beings. The experience of deep communi- 
cation with the outside world may even culmi- 
nate in the sensation of being at one with the 
whole of creation. 

This state of cosmic consciousness that under 
favorable circumstances may be attained with hal- 
lucinogens is related to the spontaneous religious 

The changes in consciousness and perception 
that may be experimentally produced with hallu- 
cinogens have found a number of different appli- 
cations in medicine. The pure substances most 
commonly used in this field are mescaline, psi- 
locybine, and LSD. Recent research has been 
concerned mainly with the most powerful halluci- 
nogen known so far, LSD, a substance that is a 
chemically modified form of the active principle 
in Ololiuqui. 


Below left: LSD is usually distributed on printed and perforated paper. The 
designs often have mystical references and use icons of Eastern religions. 

In psychoanalysis, breaking the habitual ex- 
perience of the world can help patients caught 
in an ego-centered problem cycle to escape from 
their fixation and isolation. With the I-Thou 
barrier relaxed or even removed under the influ- 
ence of a hallucinogen, better contact may be 
established with the psychiatrist, and the patient 
may become more open to psychotherapeutic 

Hallucinogenic stimulation also often causes 
forgotten or repressed past experiences to be 
clearly recalled. It can be of crucial importance in 
psychotherapy to bring back to conscious aware- 
ness events that led to a psychological distur- 
bance. Numerous reports have been published on 
how the influence of hallucinogens used during 

successive occasions at specific intervals. The 
patient’s experiences under the influence of the 
hallucinogen are discussed in a group session that 
follows and are expressed through painting, 
drawing, and the like. The term psycholysis was 
invented by Ronald A. Sandison, an English psy- 
chotherapist of the Jungian school. The “-lysis” 
component indicates the dissolving of psychologi 
cal tensions and conflicts. 

Below right and page 191: These drawings were done in 1972. The two on top 
(p. 1 91) were done before and after the LSD session. The three drawings 
below (pp. 190-191) were done before, during, and after the session with the 
same hallucinogen. 

psychoanalysis revived memories of past events, 
even those from very early childhood. This is not 
the usual form of remembering, but involves actu- 
ally going through the experience again: it is not 
reminiscence but reviviscence, as the French psy- 
chiatrist Jean Delay put it. 

The hallucinogen does not in itself effect a 
cure but rather plays the role of a medicinal aid 
to be used in the total context of psychoanalysis 
or psychotherapy, to make these more effective 
and to reduce the period of treatment required. 
There are two different ways of using it for this 

One method, developed in European hospitals, 
is known as psycholysis. It consists of giving med- 
ium doses of the hallucinogen on a number of 


The second method is the one generally pre- 
ferred in the United States. After intensive psycho- 
logical preparation appropriate to each indivi- 
dual, the patient is given a single very high dose 
of the hallucinogen. This “psychedelic therapy” is 
intended to produce a mystic, religious state of 
ecstasy that should provide a starting point for 
restructuring the patient’s personality. The term 
psychedelic means “mind manifesting.” It was 
coined by the psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond. 

The use of hallucinogens as an aid to psycho- 
analysis and psychotherapy is based on effects 

analysis and psychotherapy, are still the subject of 
dispute in medical circles. However, this applies 
also to other techniques, such as electroshock, in- 
sulin treatment, and psychosurgery, all of which 
carry far greater danger than the use of hallucino- 
gens, which, in expert hands, may be regarded as 
virtually without risk. 

Some psychiatrists hold the view that the faster 
retrieval of forgotten or repressed traumatic ex- 
periences frequently seen with these drugs and 
the shorter period of treatment are not advanta- 
geous. They believe that this method does not al- 
low sufficient time for the full psychotherapeutic 
utilization and integration of the material made 
conscious, and that the beneficial effects are of 
shorter duration than if traumatic experiences are 

that are the opposite of those psychotropic drugs 
known as tranquilizers. These drugs tend rather to 
suppress the patient’s problems and conflicts, 
making them appear less serious and no longer so 
important, whereas the hallucinogens bring con- 
flicts to the surface and make them more intense, 
so that they may be more clearly recognizable and 
open to psychotherapy. 

Hallucinogenic drugs, as an adjunct to psycho- 

brought back to conscious awareness more gradu- 
ally and dealt with in stages. 

Psycholysis and psychedelic therapy both re^ 
quire very careful preparation of the patient be- 
fore the hallucinogen is given. If there is to be a 
really positive gam from the experience, patients 
must not be frightened by the unusual effects 
produced by the drug. Careful selection of pa- 
tients to be treated is also important, for not 


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Page 192: In the 1960s, many artists in the United States and Europe ex- 
perimented with hallucinogens in order to enhance the creative process. The 
painting on the left is an example of this genre. 

every type of psychic disorder responds equally 
well to this form of therapy To be successful, 
therefore, hallucinogen-assisted psychoanalysis 
or psychotherapy requires special knowledge 
and experience. 

One of the most important aspects of the clin- 
ical training of a psychotherapist working with 

hallucinogens is self-experimentation with these 
substances. Through these experiences, therapists 
can gain direct knowledge of the worlds that their 
patients enter and, thereby, have much greater un- 
derstanding of the dynamics of the unconscious. 

Hallucinogens may also be used in experimen- 
tal studies to determine the nature of mental dis- 
orders. Certain abnormal mental states produced 
by hallucinogens in normal subjects are, in some 
respects, similar to the symptoms of schizophre- 
nia and other mental diseases. At one time it was 
even thought that hallucinogenic intoxication 

Below: Only a few artists are capable of expressing the visionary realms while 
directly under the influence of hallucinogens. The two paintings by Fred 
Weidmann were executed while under the influence of Psilocybe 
cyanescens. Both are acrylic on marbled paper. 

Left: Slipping and Sliding 1 (There exists another painting from thesameday.) 
Right: The Garden of Pan 

could be considered a “model of psychosis,” but 
major differences have in fact been found between 
psychotic states and hallucinogenic inebriation. 
However, hallucinogenic intoxication can serve 
as a model for studying the biochemical and elec- 
trophysiological changes that occur with abnor- 
mal mental states. 

One area where the medical use of hallucino- 
gens, and particularly LSD, touches on serious 
ethical questions is in the care of the dying. Doc- 
tors in American hospitals observed that the very 
severe pain suffered by cancer patients, which no 
longer responded to conventional painkillers, 
could be partly or completely relieved by LSD. 
This action is probably not analgesic in the usual 
sense. What is thought to happen is that the per- 
ception of pain disappears; under the influence of 
the drug, the patient’s mind becomes separated 
from his body to such an extent that physical pain 


Below: During visionary experiences, many people see spirals, whirlpools, 
and milky ways. The artist Nana Nauwald depicted such an experience in her 
painting The Middle Is Everywhere. 

no longer reaches it. If the use of hallucinogens in 
this type of case is to be effective, it is again abso- 
lutely necessary to prepare the patient mentally 
and to explain the kind of experience and the 
changes that he may undergo. Great benefit 
derives also from guiding the patient’s thoughts 

Below left: The painting Spirit and Matter Are Indivisible documents a recur- 
ring hallucinogen-influenced experience. 

Below right: Many people recognize the Will to Live when they have tasted the 
plants of the gods. Nana Nauwald expresses this artistically. 

toward religious aspects, which can be done by a 
clergyman or by a psychotherapist. There have 
been numerous reports of how dying individuals, 
free from pain in LSD ecstasy, have come to per- 
ceive the meaning of life and death, and have died 
in peace, reconciled to their fate and free from 

The medical use of hallucinogenic drugs differs 
from the shamanistic use of hallucinogenic sacred 
plants by medicine men and healer-priests in that 
the latter usually themselves eat the plant, or drink 

a decoction made from it; whereas in conventional 
medicine, the hallucinogenic substance is given 
only to the patient. In both instances, however, 
the same psychological effects are utilized, for 
the same drug actions that serve as an aid to psy- 
choanalysis and psychotherapy also give the sha- 
man unusual powers of divination and healing. 
They consist of the loosening or even dissolution 
of the I-Thou barrier, with the result that objec- 
tive everyday consciousness dissolves into the 
mystic experience of One-ness. 



One of the leading lights of the interdisciplinary 
investigations of hallucinogens was Louis Lewin, 
the famous Berlin toxicologist. More than a half a 
century ago, he captured the all-pervading signi- 
ficance of hallucinogens to the cultural evolution 
of the human race when he wrote in his book 

“From the beginning of our knowledge of man, 
we find him consuming substances of no nutritive 
value but taken for the sole purpose of producing 
for a certain time a feeling of contentment, ease, 
and comfort . . . 

“Their potential energy has covered the whole 
earth and established communication between 
various races, in spite of dividing mountains and 
sundering seas. These substances have formed a 
bond of union between men of opposite hemi- 
spheres, the uncivilized and the civilized; they 
have forced passages which, once open, proved of 
use for other purposes: they produced in ancient 
races characteristics which have endured to the 
present day, evidencing the marvelous degree of 
intercourse that existed between different people 
just as certainly and as exactly as a chemist can 
judge the relations of two substances by their 
reactions. Hundreds or thousands of years were 
necessary to establish contact between whole 
nations by these means . . . 

“The motives for the occasional or habitual use 
of these drugs are of greater interest than collec- 
tion of facts concerning them. Here all kinds of 
human contrasts meet: barbarism and civilization, 
with all their various degrees of material posses- 
sions, social status, knowledge, belief, age and 
gifts of body, mind, and soul. 

“On this plane meet artisan and sybarite, ruler 
and subject; the savage from some distant island 
or from the Kalahari Desert associates with poet, 
philosophers, scientists, misanthropes, and phi- 
lanthropists; the man of peace rubs shoulders with 
the man of war, the devotee with the atheist. 

“The physical impulses which bring under their 
spell such diverse classes of mankind must be ex- 
traordinary and far-reaching. Many have ex- 
pressed opinions about them, but have probed 
and understood their intrinsic properties, and 
fewer still perceived the inner-most significance 
and the motives for the use of substances in which 
such energies are stored.” 

Above: In Huichol, the term nierika refers to a portway between so-called 
ordinary and non-ordinary realities. It is a passageway and, at the same time, 
a barrier between worlds. Nierika, a decorated ceremonial disk, is also said to 
mean “mirror” as well as “face of the deity.” This nierika shows the four cardi- 
nal directions and the sacred center. The coordinating axis is placed in a field 
of fire. 

Several early scientific investigators can be 
credited with beginning the interdisciplinary re- 
search on hallucinogenic plants and psychoactive 
substances. In 1855, Ernst Freiherr von Bibra 
published Die narkotischen Genussmittel und 
der Mensch, in which he considered some seven- 
teen psychoactive plants. He urged chemists to 
study diligently an area so promising and so full 
of enigmas. Mordecai Cooke, a British mycolo- 
gist, published a number of specialized papers on 
fungi. His only popular, nontechnical publica- 
tion, The Seven Sisters of Sleep, was an interdisci- 
plinary study of psychoactive plants, published 
in 1860. 

Half a century after von Bibra’s work and un- 
doubtedly sparked by it, another outstanding 
book appeared. Carl Hartwichs extensive Die 
menschlichen Genussmittel, published in 1911, 
considered at length and with an interdisciplinary 


emphasis about thirty psychoactive plants, and he 
mentioned a number of others in passing. Point- 
ing out that von Bibra’s pioneering book was da- 
ted, that chemical and botanical research on these 
curiously active plants had scarcely begun in 1855, 
he optimistically maintained that by 1911, such 
studies were either well under way or had already 
been completed. 

Thirteen years later, in 1924, perhaps the most 
influential figure in psychopharmacology, Louis 
Lewin, published his Phantastica, a book of ex- 
traordinary interdisciplinary depth. It presented 
a total story of some twenty-eight plants and a 
few synthetic compounds that are used around 
the world for their stimulating or inebriating ef- 
fects, emphasizing their importance to scientific 
research, especially in the fields of botany, eth- 
nobotany, chemistry, pharmacology, medicine, 
psychology, and psychiatry, as well as to ethnol- 
ogy, history, and sociology. Lewin wrote that 
“the contents of this book will provide a start- 
ing point from which original research in the 
above-mentioned departments of science maybe 

From the 1930s to today, interdisciplinary ac- 
tivity in psychopharmacology, botany, and an- 
thropology began uninterruptedly to increase. 
Many amplifications and clarifications of older 
knowledge have been made and new discoveries 
in sundry fields have followed one another in 
close succession. In spite of the pharmaceutical, 
phytochemical, and ethnobotanical advances that 
have been made in the past 150 years, there still 
remains a tremendous amount of work to be done 
on these “plants of the gods.” 







Arnau, F., Rauschgift, Lucerne 1967: 101 below right 
A-Z Botanical Coll., London: 17 above left 
Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City (Codex 
Barberini Lat. 241 fol. 29r): 111 left 
Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence: 159 
above (Photo: Dr. G. B. Pineider) 

Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Florence: 
162 above (Photo: G. Sansoni) 

Biedermann, H., Lexikon der Felsbildkunst, Graz 
1976: 83 above 

Bildarchiv Bucher, Lucerne: 17 below right 
Biocca, E., Yanoama, Bari 1965 (Photo: Padre L. 
Cocco): 178 middle, 178/179, 179 middle, right, 
181 left 

Black Star, New York: 96 middle, left and right (Photo 
C. Henning) 

Bouvier, N., Cologny-Geneve: 82 
Brill, □., College Park, Georgia: 168 above left 
Carroll, L., Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, New 
York 1946: 101 below left 

Coleman Collection, Uxbridge: 17 above, center left 
Curtis Botanical Magazine, vol. Ill, third series, Lon- 
don 1847: 147 below 
Editions Delcourt, Paris: 89 above left 
EMB Archives, Lucerne: 5. 13 above, centerright, 28/ 
29, 36 (9, 10), 38 (14,15), 40 (22, 25 below), 43 
(35), 44 (38, 39), 46 (46) and below, 48 (52, 53) 
and below, 49 (55, 56), 53 (70, 72) and below, 56 
(84) and below, 58 (89, 90), 59 (93), 60 (96), 62, 88, 
118, 119, 122 above, 132, 133 right, 145 above, 
177, 187 above 

Emboden, W., California State University, Northridge: 
95 right 

Erdoes, R., New York and Santa Fe: 152 right 
ETH-Bibliothek, Zurich: 197 center left 
Forman, W., Archive, London: 62 right 
Frohlich, A., Lucerne: 186 above 
Fuchs, L., New Kreuterbuch, Basel 1543: 31 left 
Furst, P. T., New York State University, Albany, New 
York: 172 below 

Goodman, Mill Valley, California: 96 center left 
Halifax Collection, Ojai, California: 150 below, 190/ 
191 middle, 191 above, 196 
Harvard Botanical Museum, Cambridge, Mass.: 31 
center left, 98 above, 152 left, 153 above right, 170 
below, 185 above, 197 above 
Hernandez de Alba, G., Nuestra Gente Namuy Mis- 
ag, Bogota: 143 left 
Hofmann, Dr. A., Burg i. L.: 23, 1 62 left 
Holford, M., Loughton: 105 below 
Holmstedt, B., Karolinska Institute, Stockholm: 197 

Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie- 
Mellon University, Pittsburgh: 188 

Kaufmann, P. B., Department of Botany, University of 
Michigan, Ann Arbor: 99 

Kobel, H., Sandoz Research Laboratories, Basel: 103 
below right 

Koch-Grunberg, T., Zwei Jahre unter den Indianern, 
Berlin, 1910: 127 left 

Kohler, Medizinal-Pflanzenatlas, vol. I, Gera-Unterm- 
haus 1887: 21 below, 31 center left 
Krippner, S., San Francisco: 192 
Leuenberger, H., Yverdon: 1 1 1 right 
Lyckner, K.-Ch., Hamburg: 1 1 0 above left 
Moreau de Tours, J., Du Hachisch et de /' alimentation 
Mentale, Paris 1 845: 1 00 below 
Museo del Oro, Bogota: 64 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Mrs. W. Scott 
Fritz: 108 left 

Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, 
New York: 1 52 middle 

Museum Rietberg, Zurich: 2 (Photo: Kammerer / 
Wolfsberger), 10/11 Sammlung von der Heydt 
(Photo: Wettstein & Kauf) 

Myerhoff, B., Los Angeles: 148, 149 above left, 151 

Nauwald, N., Siidergellersen: 194, 195 
Negrin, J., Mexico: 63 (Photo: L. P. Baker)) 

New Yorker, New York: 100 top 
Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna (Codex 
Vindobonensis S. N. 2644 — Tacuinum Sanitatis in 
Medicina — Folio 40): 87 below 
Ott, J„ Xalapa: 56 (82) 

Parker, A.: Yale University, New Haven: 97 below left 
Pelt, J. M., Drogues et plantes magiques, Paris 1971: 
151 above left 

Perret, J., Lucerne: 184-187 (models by Dr. A. Hof- 

Petersen, W.: Mecki bei den 7 Zwergen, Koln (© for 
the Mecki-character: Diehl-Film, Munich): 84 center 

Photoarchiv Emil Schulthess Erben, Zurich: 24 
Radio Times Hulton Picture Library, London: 4 
Ratsch, C., Hamburg: 7, 8, 13 center, right, 17 below, 
center left, 1 8, 1 9, 21 above, 22, 24/25, 27, 30, 34, 
35, 36, 37 (8), 38 (16, 17), 39, 40, (23, 24), 42, 43 
(34, 36, 37), 44 (40, 41), 45, 46 (45, 47, 48), 47, 48 
(53), 49 (57), 50, 51 , 52, 53, (69, 71), 54, 55 (77, 78, 
80), 56 (81, 83), 57, 58 (91), 59 (92, 94), 60 (95, 
97), 83 below, 84 above, center left, below, 85 
above right, below, 86, 97 above left, above right, 
89 below, 90 below, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95 above, 96 
above, below, 97, above left, above right, 101 
above, 102, 103 above right, below right, 104, 105 
right, 106, 107 above, below left, below right, 108 
above right, below, 109, 110 below left, right, 112, 
113 above below left, 114 above, 115 above, 117 

left, above left, 120, 121, 122 below, 123, 124, 
125, 128, 129, 130, 131, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138^ 
139, 140, 141, 142 right, 144, 145 below, 146, 147 
above, 150 above, 151 above right, 152 above, 153 
above left, 154 above left, 155 below, 156 above, 
157 above, 158, 159 below, 164, 165, 166, 167, 
168 above right, middle, below, 169, 170 above left, 
below, 172 above, 173, 175 above, 176 left, 181 
right, 182, 189, 190 left 

Rauh, Prof., Dr. W., Institut fur Systematische Bota- 
nik und Pflanzengeographie der Universitat Hei- 
delberg: 16 above right, middle, below, 17 mid- 
dle, 60 

Roger Viollet, Paris: 1 1 6 right 
Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. 117 below right, 126 
left, 197 center right 

Sahagun, B. de, Historia General de las Cosas de 
Nueva Espana, Mexico 1829: 107 below middle 
Salzman, E.: Denver, Colorado: 85 above left 
Samorini, G.: Dozza: 112 right, 113 below right, 114. 

below, 115 below 
Scala, Florence: 105 left 

Schaefer, S. B.: McAllen, Texas: 6, 149 above right, 
middle, 154 above right, below, 155 above 
Schmid, X.: Wetzikon: 55 (79) 

Schultes, R. E., Harvard Botanical Museum, Cam- 
bridge, Mass.: 98 below, 1 17 above right, 126 mid- 
dle, right, 127 right, 133 left, 142, 178 
Schuster, M., Basel: 118 above left, 119 above 

Science Photo Library, London (Long Ashton Re- 
search Station, University of Bristol): 31 right 
Sharma, G., University of Tennessee, Martin: 98 cen- 
ter right 

Sinsemilla: Marijuana Flowers © Copyright 1976, Ri- 
chardson, Woods and Bogart. Permission granted 
by: And/Or Press, Inc., PO Box 2246, Berkeley, CA 
94702: 97 below right 

Smith, E. W., Cambridge, Mass.: 156/157 below, 171 
above right, 176 right 
Starnets, P. Olympia: 158 right 
Tobler, R., Lucerne: 16 above left, 81 
Topham, J., Picture Library, Edenbridge: 17 above 
right, 90 above 

Valentini, M. B., Viridarium reformatum, seu regnum 
vegetabile, Frankfurt a. Main 1719: 80 
Wasson, R. G., Harvard Botanical Museum, Cam- 
bridge, Mass.: 14, 15 (Photo A. B. Richardson), 
174 below, 175 below (Photo: C. Bartolo) 
Weidmann, F., Munich: 193 

Zentralbibliothek Zurich (Ms. F23, p. 399): 89 above 

Zerries, O., Munich: 118 below right, 118/119, 119 
above right 



Should this book succeed in giving its readers a better 
understanding of the role of hallucinogenic plants in 
the cultural development of man through the centu- 
ries, we must thank the patience and friendliness of 
shamans and other native peoples with whom we 
have had the happy opportunity of working. 

The debt that we owe for the faithful cooperation 
and encouragement of our many professional collea- 
gues over the years can be neither easily nor ade- 
quately put into words, but nonetheless it is deeply 


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To the sundry scientific institutions and many 
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many ways, both before and during the preparation of 
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its present form. 

The generosity of the many individuals and institu- 
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(prepared by 
Christian Ratsch) 

Italics of numbers refer to cap- 

1 ,2-dimethyl-6-methoxytetra- 
hydro-p-carboline 117, 179 

2- methyl-6-methoxytetrahy- 
dro-fl-carboline 117, 179 

mine 59 

3- hydroxy-4-methoxyphe- 
nethylamine 42 

3- methoxy-tyramine 39, 59, 77 

4- hydroxy-3-methoxypheny- 
lethylamine 51, 67, 69 

4- tetrahydroisoquinoline alka- 
loids 51 

5- hydroxydimethyltryptamine 

5-hydroxy-tryptophane 52 
5-hydroxycarnegine 39, 77 
5-MeO-DMT 22, 35, 50, 54, 

60, 69, 77, 137, 138, 138 
5-MeO-MMT 120 
tryptamine 69, 179 

5- OH-DMT-A/-oxide 120 

6- methoxy-W,A/-dimethyltryp- 
tamine 179 

a-asarone 34, 77 
A-mu-kia 1 73 

Aborigines 42, 73, 75, 182, 

183, 183 
Acacia 34, 72 
Acacia resin 73, 75 
Acacias 72, 73, 75 
Acacia aneura 183 
Acacia coriacea 183 
Acacia kempeana 1 83 
Acacia lingulata 1 83 
Acacia maidenii 34, 72, 73, 

138, 138 

Acacia phlebophylla 34, 67, 

72, 73, 138 

Acacia pruinocarpa 1 83 
Acacia salicina 1 83 
Acacia simplicifolia 34, 72, 73, 

Accultaration 65 
Achuma 166, 168 
Acorus 34 

Acorus calamus 16, 34, 76 
Afghanistan 41 , 68, 73, 88, 99 
Aflotoxins 19 

Africa 26, 34, 39, 40, 41, 46, 

49, 50, 52, 60, 64, 73, 76, 

78, 88, 94, 96, 97, 98, 99, 

109, 110, 111, 115 
Agara 26, 43, 66, 69 
Agave 1 09 
Age of Herbals 16 
Agriculture 20 
Aguacolla 27,30,76, 168 
Aguardiente 143 
Ahijado 39 
Ahnishinaubeg 85 
Ahriman 102 
Ai euro 134 
Ajuca 70, 71 
Ajuwri-kahi-ma 126 
Alan 114 
Alander 189 
Albertus the Great 87 
Albornoz, Cristobal de 120 
Alcohol 10, 23, 82, 160 
Alcoholic drinks 69 
Alcornea castanaefolia 1 34 
Aicornea floribunda 98, 1 14 
Algae 17, 18, 19 
Algonquin 78, 79, 110 
Alice in Wonderland 101 

Alkaline plant ash(es) 67, 75, 
182, 183 

Alkaloid(s) 23, 34, 38, 39, 40, 
42, 43, 47, 50, 52, 53, 54, 
56, 59, 67, 69, 71, 73, 75, 
77, 79, 105, 120, 184 
Allergies 46 
Alpen nomads 72 
Altai 82 

Alternanthera lehmanii 1 24 
Ama 178 
Amacisa 134 
Amanita 34, 64, 82-85 
Amanita muscaria 17,29,34, 
70, 81 , 82-85, 82 
Amaringo, Pablo 12 
Amaryllis family 26 
Amasita 69, 178 
Amazon 24, 30, 36, 49, 59, 60, 
81, 117, 124-135, 139, 141, 
162, 176, 177, 178 
Amazon Valley 66 
Amazonia 12, 37, 55, 58, 68, 
119, 139 

Amazonian Brazil 72, 74, 177 
Amazonian folk medicine 69 
Amazonian Peru 79 
America(s) 20, 34, 74, 76, 84, 
110, 144, 162 
American basil 124 
American Southwest 78, 107 
Amitabha Buddha 108 
Amphibians 90 
Amrita 92 
Amsterdam 139 
Amulets 68, 90 
Anabasine 75, 179, 183 
Anabatin 183 

Anadenanthera 34, 8 1 , lie- 
119, 117 179 

Anadenanthera colubrina 29, 
34, 66, 1 20, 122, 123 
Anadenanthera colubrina var. 

Cebil 66, 120-123, 120 
Anadenanthera peregrina 29, 
35,66,116-119, 116-118, 

Anadenanthera peregrina var. 

falcata 66 
Anahuasca 137 
Analgesics 13 
Anandatandava 10 
Anatalline 183 

Ancestor-communication ritual 
112-115, 129 
Ancestors67, 112-115 
Andean Indians 78 
Andes 30, 33, 34, 40, 42, 45, 

53, 59, 66, 74, 76, 81, 116, 
117, 140, 141, 142, 143, 

143, 168 

Andromedotoxin 53 
Aneglakya 106 
Anesthetic 107 
Angel’s trumpet(s) 66, 107, 

134, 140-143 
Angelitos 84 
Angiosperms 16, 17 , 18 
Angler’s Weed 96 
Anglo-Saxon period 95 
Angro Maynes 102 
Animal Kingdom 14, 117 
Antiaris toxicaria 46 
Antibiotics 19 

Antiquity 26, 36, 44, 48, 66, 76 
Antilles 116 
Anxiety 73 
Apasmarapurusa 10 
Aperitif 79 

Aphrodisiac 46, 57, 60, 69, 71 , 
73,75,77, 78,79,109,170 
Aphrodite 90 
Apollo 44, 90 
Apollo’s plant 44 
Apollo’s temple 91 
Apomorphine 50, 67 
Aposcopolamine 141 
Apples of Love 90 
Aquatic plants 65 

Arabian physician 68 
Arabian territory 98 
Arabs 74 
Arapaho 74 

Arbol de Campanilla 74 
Arbol de los Brujos 27, 30, 72 
Archichlamydeae 17 
Argemone mexicana 98 
Argentina 30, 43, 66, 67, 81 , 
120, 122, 167 
Argyreia 35 

Argyreia nervosa 35, 78, 103 
Ariocarpus 35, 42, 71 
Ariocarpus fissuratus 35, 70, 

Ariocarpus retusus 35, 70, 147 
Arizonine 39, 77 
Aromo 122 
Arrow poisons 1 0 
Artaud, Antonin 8, 147 
Artemisia ludoviciana 153 
Artemisia mexicana 98 
Arum family 26 
Arundo donax 138 
Arutam wakani 143 
Aryans 70, 82 
Asarones 34 

Asia 26, 34, 36, 39, 40, 4 1 , 44, 
49, 50, 52, 53, 64, 82, 82, 

84, 88, 95, 108 
Asia Minor 72, 76, 97, 98 
Assassin 72 

Assyrians 94, 98, 99, 102 
Astoria 157 

Astrophyton asterias 147 
Atacama 120, 123 
Atangatree 112 
Athabaskan peoples 70 
Atropa 36, 86-91 
Atropa belladonna 17, 29, 36, 
68, 69, 86-91, 86, 90 
Atropa belladonna vat. lutea 
36, 86 

Atropa caucasia 36 
Atropa komarovii 36 
Atropine 36, 37, 39, 41 , 46, 48, 
73, 86,87, 141 
Atropos 88 

Auditory hallucinations 77, 79 
Australia 26, 34, 42, 43, 72, 74, 
81, 138, 183 
Avicenna 68, 107 
Axocatzin 57, 72 
Ayahuasca 12, 19, 30, 36, 55, 

59, 62, 63, 64, 66, 67, 69, 

81, 124-135, 124-137, 139, 
141, 143 

Ayahuasca additive(s) 37, 58, 
124, 134, 138 

Ayahuasca analogs 34, 54, 55, 
69,73,77, 131, 137-139 
Ayahuasca Churches 139 
Ayahuasca patterns 129, 130, 

Ayahuasca vine 36, 125 
Ayahuasca vision(s) 133, 137 
Ayahuasquero 133 
Ayahuma 134 
Ayan-beyem 1 1 5 
Ayurvedic medicine 68, 78, 79 
Aztec Codex 63 
Aztec Dream Grass 78 
Aztec(s) 26, 27, 41 , 43, 45, 56, 

60, 62, 63, 66, 70, 72, 74, 
78,79,81, 109, 146, 156, 

159, 164, 165, 170, 172, 

173, 174 

Aztec Sage 1 64 
Aztekium riterii 147 
(3-asarone 77 

(i-carboline alkaloids 52, 59, 

67, 69,77, 127 
(5-carbolines 67, 81, 127, 131 
|3-phenethylamine 40, 57 
Bacchanals 89 
Bactris species 179 
BadianusManuscipt 107 
Badoh 74 

Badoh Negro 45, 66, 175 

Baeocystine 52, 55, 73 
Bakana 40, 56, 66 
Bakanawa 66 
Balche’ 34 
Bali 51, 68, 69 
Banisterine 127 
Banisteriopsis (spp.) 36, 67, 69, 
81,124-135,137, 137 , 143 
Banisteriopsis caapi 29, 36, 66, 
Banisteriopsis inebrians 36, 

66, 124, 129 

Banisteriopsis muricata 131 
Banisteriopsis quitensis 124 
Banisteriopsis rusbyana 66, 67 
Banzie 1 1 3 

Barasana 132, 177, 177 
Batsikawa 134 
Baudelaire, Charles 101 , 101 
Bauhin 104 
Bedouins 88 

Beer 71, 74, 75, 109, 122, 130, 

Belgian 114 
Belgium 104 

Belladonna 26, 68, 88, 107 
Benares 97 
Beni-Tengu-Dake 85 
Beri-berl 95 
Bering Strait 84 
Bern 96 
Betel 73 

Betel chew mixture 69 
Beyama 1 1 4 
Bhang 72, 73, 97 
Bharaorakasha 95 
Biak-Biak 72 
Biangan 141 
Bible 97, 161 

Bibra, Ernst Freiherr von 196, 
197, 197 
Big Raven 82 

Bindweed(s) 103, 135, 171 
Biocca, Ettore 176 
Bipyridyl 183 
Black Henbane 44 
Blake, William 88 
Blood-red Angel’s Trumpet 33, 
37, 140-143, 140 
Blue Meanies51, 146-163 
Blue Water Lily 66 
Bogota 117 
Boletus 36, 75 
Boletus kumeus 74 
Boletus manicus 36, 74 
Boletus nlrgoviolaceus 74 
Boletus reayi 36, 74 
Bolivia 18, 76, 166, 168 
Bonplant, Aime 116, 140 
Bora 176, 178, 179, 180 
Borrachero 27, 66, 68, 74, 76, 
124, 143, 143 
Botswana 26, 72 
Bovista 48 

Brazil 66, 68,70,72,73,77, 

117, 118, 119, 139, 177. 

178, 178 

British Guyana 119 
Brugmansia (spp.) 29, 37, 64, 
67,73,77,81, 124, 140-143 
Brugmansia arborea 66, 1 40, 


Brugmansia aurea 37, 66, 

Brugmansia x Insignis 66, 141 
Brugmansia sanguinea 33, 37, 
66, 140-143 

Brugmansia suaveolens 66, 

124, 141 

Brugmansia versicolor 66, 141 
Brugmansia vulcanicola 66, 

140, 143 

Brunfelsia 30, 37, 68, 69, 124 
Brunfelsia chiricaspi 37, 68, 


Brunfelsia grandiflora 37, 68, 


Brunfelsia grandiflora ssp. 
schultesii68, 135 

Bryophyta 16 
Buddha 97, 107, 108 
Buddhism 97, 98 
Bufo alvarius 22 
Bufotenine 69, 120, 120 
Bush people 73 
Bushmen 26, 72, 99 
Buyes 141 

Bwiti cult 26, 71, 112-115, 

Caapi 30, 66, 62, 67, 124, 126 
Caapi-Pinima 59, 66 
Cabalonga 134 
Cabalonga blanca 134 
Cacalia 38 

Cacalia cordifolia 38, 74 
Cacao tree 1 77 
Cachirf 131 

Cactus 67, 71, 75, 124 
Caesalpinia 38 
Caesalpinia decapetala 78 
Caesalpinia sepiaria 38, 78 
Cahua 66 
Caji 132 
Calamus 76 

Calathea veltchiana 1 24 
Calea 38 

Calea zacatechichi 38, 78, 98 
California 72 
Calima region 162 
Caltrop 137 
Cameroon 1 14 
Campa 127 
Campanilla 26 
Canada 26, 74, 76, 85, 151 
Canary Islands 70 
Canavalia maritima 98 
Cannabidiolic acids 73 
Cannabinol(s) 93 
Cannabinotic compounds 73 
Cannabis 12, 38, 72, 73, 81, 

98, 92-101, 92-101, 107, 
108, 184, 185 
Cannabis cakes 72 
Cannabis cigarettes 69 
Cannabis indica 72, 92, 92- 
101, 185 

Cannabis indica x sativa 92 
Cannabis ruderalis 93 
Cannabis sativa 17, 29, 38, 72 
114, 185 

Cannabis substitute 77 
Caribbean Islands 26 
Carludovica 179, 180 
Carnegia 39, 77 
Carnegia gigantea 76 
Carnegine 77 
Carroll, Lewis 101 
Cassias pp. 183 
Cat’s claw 134, 135 
Catahua 134 
Catharanthus roseus 98 
Catholic Church 159 
Catholicism 115 
Catnip 98 
Cawe 51 , 66 
Caza 89 

Cebil 30, 34, 66, 120-123, 120 
Ceboletta 66 
Cecropia mexicana 98 
Ceiba pentandra 135 
Ceremonial intoxication 69 
Cestrum 39 

Cestrum iaevigatum 68, 98 
Cestrum parqui 39, 68, 98 
Cha-pe-na 179 
Chancarro 98 

Chacruna55, 66, 124-135 , 134 

Chacruna Bush 66, 139 

Chacs 84 

Chalice Vine 57 

Chamico 109 

Channa 70 

Chanoclavin-I 79 

Charas 26, 72, 73 

Charms 68 

Chatin area 174 

Chatino 158 

Chautle 70 


Chavin de Huantar 122, 166 
Chiapas 77, 159, 162 
Chibcha 66, 67, 1 1 6 
Chicha 67, 140, 141 
Chichibe 72 
Chichimeca 144, 145 
Chiclayo 166 
Chihuahua 70, 74, 144 
Childbirth 96, 1 04 
Chile 66,68,69,72, 76,78,95, 
123, 141 
Chilicote 68 
Chimu culture 168 
China 66, 70, 71 , 76, 77, 78, 

94, 107, 108 

Chinantec 66, 75, 78, 158, 

173, 174 

Chindoy, Salvador 142 
Chinese medicine 76, 77 
Chinese shamanism 94 
Chinese writings 68, 72, 79, 

94, 107 

Chiric-Sanango 68 
Chiricaspi 30, 68, 69, 134, 135 
Choco 141 
Chonta Palm 1 68 
Chontal Indians 78, 79 
Chorisia insignis 135 
Chou dynasty 94 
Christian holy spirits 139 
Christianity 70, 79, 1 1 5, 1 22, 

Chuchu-caspi 134 
Cigars 1 65 

Cigarette 71 , 73, 79, 93 
Cimora 168 

Claviceps39, 102-105, 102- 

Claviceps paspali 1 02 
Claviceps purpurea 29, 39, 68, 
102-105, 102-105 
Clinton, Bill 155 
Clusiaceae 124 
Coatl-xoxo uhqui 170 
Coaxihuitl 170 
Coca 13, 29, 64, 117 
Cocaine 12, 113 
Codeine 12 

Codex BerberiniLatina241, 107 

Codex Florentino 159 

Cohoba 26, 116 

Cold tree 68, 69 

Coleus 39, 69 

Coleus blumei 39, 68, 165 

Coleus pumilus 39, 68, 164 , 1 65 

Colima 1 62 

Collenia 18, 18 

Colombia 30, 65, 67, 68, 69, 

74, 76, 116, 116, 117, 118, 
119, 126, 133, 140, 140, 

141, 142, 162, 176, 177, 178 
Colombian Choco 73 
Colombian Indians 68 
Colombian Vaupes 69, 1 24 
Colorado River Toad 22 
Colorines 68, 74 
Comanche 151, 152 
Common Reed 54, 68 
Common Wireweed 98 
Conduro 168 
Congo 26,70,81, 97, 99 
Conibo-Shipibo 126, 129, 130 
Conocybe 40, 156—163 
Conocybe siligineoides 40, 78 
Convolvulus tricolor 171 
Cooke, Mordecai 196, 197 
Copal 150, 164 
Copelandia 68 

Copelandia cyanescens 68, 69 
Cora Indians 97, 145, 146, 

147, 149 
Coral Bean 74 
Coral Tree 43 
Coriaria 40 

Coriaria thymifolia 40, 76 
Coryphanta 40, 67 
Coryphanta compacta 40, 66 
Coryphanta palmerii 40 
Coryphanta spp. 66 

Costa Rica 78, 1 18. 1 62 
Cotinin 183 
Coumarines 71 , 77 
Cowhage 68 
Cree Indians 76 
Crow Dog, Henry 152 
Crusades 103 
Cryogenine 77 
Cuba 40, 60, 159, 175 
Culebra borrachero 1 42 
Cumala (Tree) 60, 134 
Cuna 97 

Curanderismo 166 
Curandero 109, 168 
Curare 69, 126 
Curare-like activity 75 
Cuscohygrine 73 
Cuzco 129, 169 
Cyanogenesis 73 
Cymbopogon 40 
Cymbopoaon densiflorus 40, 
70, 98 " 

Cyperus 1 24 
Cytisine 69, 71 , 75 
Cytisus 41,71 
Cytisus canariensis 41 , 70 
binol 73, 98 
D-nbr-nicotine 1 83 
Dacha 72 
Daggha 26 
Dagga 72, 98 
Dama da Noite 68 
Damiana 98 
Dapa 124 
Dark Ages 91 
Dark-rimmed Mottlegill 52, 

Datura 10, 26, 27, 41, 64, 68, 
73, 79, 81, 93, 97, 106-111, 
140, 141, 147, 172 
Datura ceratocaula 1 1 1 
Datura discolor78 
Datura fastuosa 110 
Datura ferox 68, (109) 

Datura innoxia 18, 41 , 73, 78, 
79, 106-111 
Datura kymatocarpa 78 
Datura mete 1 13, 41, 68, 106- 
111, 106 

Datura meteloides 78 
Datura pruinosa 78 
Datura reburra 78 
Datura spp. 29, 1 06-1 1 1 
Datura stramonium 31,41,78, 

Datura stramonium var. ferox 

Datura stramonium var. tatula 

Datura wrightii 78 
Dauphinb 103 
De Candolle, A. P. 105 
Dead Sea 90 

Deadly Nightshade 16, 17, 36, 
68, 81, 86-91 
Death 75 

Deer 63, 144-155 
Delaware 154 
Delay, Jean 1 90 
Delhi 85 
Delirants 12 
Delirium 73, 75, 86, 103 
Delphi 70, 86, 91 
Deltgen, Florian 132 
Delusionogens 12 
Demeter 81, 104 
Depression 73 
Desfontania 42 
Desfontainia spinosa 27, 42, 

Desgranges of Lyons 104 
Desmanthus illinoensis 138 
Desmodium 137, 138 
Desmodium pulchellum 1 38 
Desmodium spp. 138 
Devil’s Herb 88 
Dhatura 107 
Di-shi-tjo-le-rra-ja 78 

Diagnosis 69, 75, 77, 177 
Diarrhea 73, 79 
Dicotyledoneae 17 
Dictyloma incanescens 138, 


Dictyonema 1 9 
Dietnes 142 
Digitalis 10 
Dihydroharmine 127 
Dimethyltryptamine 69, 77, 

117, 179 
Dionysus 88 

Dioscorides 1 6 , 87, 96, 107, 171 
Diplopterys cabrerana 66, 67, 
124, 126, 129, 138 
Diterpenes 77 
Divination 75, 77, 109, 124, 

142, 164, 171, 175, 177 
Divinatory plant 69 
Diviner’s sage 27, 56, 1 64-1 65 
Divinorin A, B 1 65 
DMT 67, 69, 72, 73, 77, 117, 
120, 127, 137, 137, 138, 138 
DMT-W-oxide 120 
DOB 14 
Dobe 72 
Dodart 1 04 
Dog Grass 38 
Dogbane family 26 
Dogrib Athabascan peoples 85 
Dore, Gustave 100 
Dryopteris filix-mas 16 
Duboisia 42, 182-183 
Duboisia hopwoodii 42, 74, 
182-183, 183 
Duboisia myoporoides 1 83 
Duboisia spp. 29 
Dog Grass 98 
Dragon doll 91 
Dreamtime 1 82-1 83 
Ducke 176 
Dutch 70, 102 
Dutra 68 
Dwale 88 
Dwaleberry 88 
Eagle 63, 110 
Earth Goddess 6, 63 
Earth Mother 133, 146, 154 
East Indies 69, 109 
Eastern Europe 74 
Eastern Hemisphere 28, 30 
Ebena 177 
Ebers Papyrus 86 
Eboka 112 
Echinocereus 42 
Echinocereus salmdyckianus 
42, 74 

Echinocereus triglochidiatus 
42, 74, 75 

Echinopsis pachanoi 76 
Ecuador 27, 30, 68, 69, 76, 77, 

Ecuadorian Andes 66, 76 
Egypt 54, 74, 88, 103 
Egyptian culture 66, 86 
Egyptian Henbane 88 
Egyptian sites 72 
Eidetics 1 2 
El Ahijado 68, 1 65 
El Macho 68, 164 
El Nene 68, 165 
El Nino 159 

Elaeophorbia drupifera 115 
Eleusis 102, 104 
Eleusinian mysteries 68, 81 , 102 
Elizabetha princeps 69, 178, 

Enema 122 

England 74, 95, 96, 104 

Entheogens 12 

Epena 68,69, 73, 176-181 

Ephedra 84 

Ephedra gerardiana 84 

Ephedrine 19, 73 

Epilepsy 103 

Epilobium angustifolium 71 
Epinephrine 145 
Epiphyllum 1 24 
Epithelantha 42 

Epithelantha micromeris 42, 70 
Ereriba 26, 44, 68 
Ergine (LSA) 79, 103, 171 
Ergoline alkaloids 69, 171 
Ergonovine 79, 105 
Ergot 26, 39, 68, 69, 102-105, 

Ergot alkaloids 69, 103 
Ergotamine 105 
Ergotine 172 
Ergotism 68, 103 
Ergotoxine 103 
Eroga 114 

Ervatamia pandacaqui 76 
Erythran type alkaloids 69 
Erythrina 42, 69 
Erythrina americana 42, 68 
Erythrina coralloides 68 
Erythrina flabelliformis 42, 68 

Eschweilera itayensis 1 71 
Escobilla 98 

Essential oil(s) 19, 34, 40, 46, 
47, 57, 58, 71 , 75, 77 
Eucalyptus microtheca 1 83 
Eucalyptus spp. 183 
Eugenol 75 
Eugster 83 
Euphoria 71, 101 
Euphorics 13 

Europe 13, 13, 26, 64, 68, 69, 
72,74, 81, 88, 139, 158, 193 
European folklore 73 
European peoples 68 
Everlasting 98 
Fabaceae 138 
False peyote 35, 70, 74, 78 
Fang 1 12 

Fang-K’uei 53, 70, 71 
Farmer’s tobacco 134 
Febrifuge 79 
Fermented drink 67 
Fern 16 

Fetish plants 114 
Fig family 93 

Finno-Ugrian peoples 70, 82 
Fish 14 
Flag Root 76 
Flavonglycosides 77 
Floripondio 27, 66 
Fly Agaric 16, 17, 26, 34, 62, 
70, 81 

Flying Saucers 170 
Folk medicine 71 , 73, 76, 77, 

France 1 03 
French 102, 114 
French Academy 104 
Frijoles 74 
Frijolillo 27 
Frogs 14, 90 
Fuchs, Leonard 31 
Fungi 18, 65, 65, 71, 156, 196 
Furocoumarines 71 
Gabon 26,70, 81,112-115 
Galanga 46, 70 
Galbulimima 43 
Galbulimima belgraveana 43, 
66, 69 

Galen 72, 95, 96 
Galileo 90 
Gallows man 91 
Ganja 26, 72, 73, 97 
Ganoderma lucidum 17 
Garden of Eden 91 
Gaston 1 03 
Genista 27, 41 , 70 
GenuBmittel 10 
Gerard 91, 109 
German(s) 102, 114 
Germany 95, 139, 143 
Ghangi 97 
Gi'-i-Sa-Wa 70 
Gi'-i-Wa 27, 70 
Giganton 76, 168 
Ginger 71 
Ginger family 26 
Ginseng 91, 94 
God-narcotic 73 

Golden Angel’s Trumpet 37, 
Goodenia 183 
Gramine 69, 77 
Gramineae 138 
Grasses 65 

Greece 13, 26, 68, 70, 74, 81 
86, 97, 102 

Greek physician 72, 95 
Grevillea striata 1 83 
Guaianas 78 
Guahibo 117, 119 
Guambiano 140, 143 
Guarana 29 

Guatemala 62, 81 , 84, 1 61 , 1 62 

Guatillo 1 34 

Guayusa 29, 134 

Guerrero 73 

Gulf Coast of Mexico 72 

Gumilla 118 

Gums 183 

Gustavia poeppigiana 1 79 
Guttiferae 124 
Guyana 116 
Gymnospermae 17 , 181 
Hades 105 
Haiti 118 

Hallucinations 12, 69, 71 , 73, 
75,86,88, 103, 112, 141 
Hallucinogen(s) 10-14, 28, 62, 
64, 67, 69, 70, 71, 73, 74, 

75.76.77, 78,79,94,102, 
107, 140, 141, 142, 142, 

147, 176, 196 

Hallucinogen-assisted psy- 
choanalysis 193 
Hallucinogenic dreams 69 
Hallucinogenic drugs 191, 195 
Hallucinogenic effects 73, 75, 

Hallucinogenic intoxication 67, 

71.75.77, 79, 193 
Hallucinogenic mushrooms 69 
Hallucinogenic smoke 72 
Hardwicke 108 

Harmal 77 
Harmalol 127 

Harmaline 77, 127, 129, 137 

Harmane 127 

Harmine 77, 127, 129, 137 

Harrison Narcotic Act 12 

Hartwich, Carl 196, 197 

Hashish 5, 72, 74, 92-101 

Hashish-snuffing cults 99 

Hashishins 72 

Hawaiian Wood Rose 35, 78 

Hawk 110 

Hawkweed 98 

Hayo 117 

Heath family 27 

Hecate 88 

Heimia 43 

Heimia salicifolia 43, 76, 77 
Heimia species 76 
Hekula 116-119, 118, 179 
Helichrysum 43 
Helichrysum foetidum 43, 76, 

Helichrysum stenopterum 76, 

Helicostylis 44 
Helicostylis pedunculata 44, 

Helicostylis tomentosa 44, 78 
Hemp 12, 16, 17, 26, 38, 72, 
92-101, 92-1 01, 184 
Henbane 13, 26, 70, 81 , 86- 
91, 86, 107 
Henry VIII 95 

Herb of the Shepherdess 70 
Herbs 65, 75 

Hernandez, Dr. Francisco 72, 
109, 146, 157, 170 
Herodotus 94 
Heroin 12, 113 
Heuresis 87 
Hexing Herbs 86-91 
Hidalgo 99 

Hieracium pilosella 98 


Hierba de la Pastora 27, 70. 

Hierba de la Virgen 70 
Hierba Loca27, 53, 76 
Hierba Marfa 175 
Highland Maya 62 
Hikuli 66, 70, 74, 151 
Hikuli Mulato 42, 70, 71 
Hikuli Rosapara 70, 78 
Hikuli Suname 70 
Hikuri 74, 78, 148, 150 
Hikuri Orchid 50 
Himalayas 30, 98, 97, 106 
Hindu 13, 93, 97 
Hiporuru 134 
Hippomanes 109 
Hispaniola 116 
Hoa-Glio 95 
Hoasca 139 
Hotter 13 

Hofmann, Albert 13, 22, 162, 

Hoja de la pastora 164 
Holy Fire 103 

Homalomena lauterbachii 44 
Homalomena sp. 44, 67, 68 
Homer 86 

Hongo de San Isidro 78, 156 
Hoop-petticoat 51, 156-163 
Hops 71, 93 

Hottentots 26, 70, 96, 99 
Huaca 141 
Huacacachu 27, 66 
Huacachaca 141 
Huachuma 168, 168 
Huanto 27, 66 
Huedhued 76 
Hueipatl 72 
Hueyytzontecon 174 
Huichol 6, 8, 62, 63, 70, 71 , 72, 
73,74,78, 144, 145, 146, 
147, 148, 148, 149, 150, 

150, 151, 151, 154, 162, 196 
Huilca 66,74, 122 
Humbold, Baron Alexander 
von 116, 118, 119, 140 
Hummingbird 166 
Humulus 93 
Hungarian stamp 175 
Huskanawing ceremony 1 1 0 
Hyoscyamine 69, 71, 73, 75, 
79, 86 

Hyoscyamus 44, 86-91 
Hyoscyamus albus 13, 44, 70, 

Hyoscyamus niger44, 70, 86- 
91 , 86 

Hyoscyamus spp. 29, 86-91 
Hypnotics 13 

Iboga 58, 64, 70,71,81, 112r- 
115, 112-115 
Iboga cult 112 
Ibogaine 71, 79, 113 
Ibogaine-like alkaloids 77 
Ibotenic acid 71 , 83 
Ice Plant family 26 
Ilex drinks 64 
Incense 150 

India 26, 62, 66, 68, 69, 70, 72, 
82, 88, 92, 95, 97, 97, 107, 
108, 108, 109 
Indian Henbane 88 
Indian peoples 69 
Indian writings 74, 98 
Indians 66, 67, 69, 72, 73, 74, 79 
Indochina 108 
Indole alkaloids 71 , 77, 79 
103, 113 

Indolic alkaloids 79 
Indonesia 26 
Indra 82, 83, 92 
Indus Valley 82 
Inebriation 88 
Ingano Indians 141 
Initiation ritual 67, 71, 79, 81, 
110 , 110 

Insanity 73, 77, 86, 168 
Inspiration 100 
Intoxicant 73, 74, 76, 79 

Intoxicating 31 
Intoxicating drink 77 
Intoxication 10, 67, 69, 71 , 72, 
75, 77, 79, 108, 112, 145, 
172, 174 
Intoxicator 68 
lochroma 45 

lochroma fuchsioides 45, 74 
Iowa tribes 74 

Ipomoea45, 170-175, 170-175 
Ipomoea carnea 1 34, 135, 172 
Ipomoea rubrocaerulea 45 
Ipomoea violacea 29, 45, 66, 
103, 170-175, 170-175 
Ireland 104 
Iresine 124, 168 
Iryanthera macrophylla 1 78 
Iso-lysergic acid amide (iso- 
LSD) 79, 186, 187 
Isoharmine 127 
Isoleosibirine 77 
Isotoma longiflora 1 68 
Islam 70, 98, 115 
Jaguar(s) 119, 126, 130, 142 
Jalisco 162 
Jambur 68 
Japan 83, 85 
Jesuit(s) 145, 162 
Jesus 154 

Jibaro 64, 69, 141, 142, 143 
Jimsonweed 78 
Jopa 117 

Josephus Flavius 90 
Jouzmathal 107 
Juliana Codex 87 
Jungian school 190 
Jurema 70 
Jurema Tree 49 
Juremahuasca 139 
Justicia 45, 69, 72, 73, 181 
Justicia pectoralis var. steno- 
• phylla 45, 72, 178, 181 
Kabuyare 177 
Kaemferia 46 

Kaempferia galanga 46, 70 

Kaffirs 99 

Kahi 124, 126 

Kakulja-ikox 84 

Kalahari desert 196 

Kalamota 70 

Kalinchok 30 

Kamsa 74, 77, 141, 142 

Kamtchatka 82, 85 

Kana 134 

Kandahar 99 

Kanna 26, 70, 71 

Kapok tree 134, 135 

Karauetare 177 

Karime 177 

Karitiana Indians 72 

Karuka madness 77 

Kasai 99 

Kashmir 97 

Kathmandu 93, 158 

Kauyumari 63, 148 

Kava-kava 13, 26, 64 

Kechwa 62 

Khursu 98 

Kickapoo 153 

Kieli 72, 73 

Kielitsa 73 

Kieri 72 

Kif 72, 98 

Kiowa 151, 152, 153 
Kirishana 177 

Koch-Griinberg, Theodor 180 

Kochia scoparia 1 27 

Kofan 126 

Korea 91 

Koribo 59, 72 

Koryak 64, 82, 83 

Kougoed 56, 98 

Krasnojarsk District 82 

Kratom 49, 72 

Kuluene River 24 

Kuma75, 111 

Kuma Mushroom 36 

Kung 97 

Kuripako 177 

Kwashi 26, 52, 72 
Kykeon 104 
La Barre, Weston 64 
Lady of the Night 39, 68, 98 
Lagochiiine 79 
Lagochilus 26, 46 
Lagochilus inebrians 26, 46, 78 
Lake Victoria 99 
Latua 46 

Latua pubi flora 46, 72 
Latue 27, 46, 72, 73 
Latuy 76 
Latvia 75 
Le-sa 179 
Lecythus 81 
Leguminosae 138 
Lemon 1 39 
Lemongrass 40, 98 
Leon, Padre Nicolas de 147 
Leonotis 47 

Leonotis leonurus 47, 72, 98 
Leonurus 47 

Leonurus sibiricus 47, 76, 98 
Leosibiricine 77 
Leosibirine 77 
Lespedeza capltata 138 
Levitation 77 

Lewin, Louis 13, 196, 197, 197 

Li Shih-chen 1 07 

Lianas 65 

Lichens 18, 19 

Libation 91 

Liberty Cap(s) 55, 72, 1 56- 

Lilium candidum 16 

Lily-like plants 65 

Lindley, John 16 

Linnaeus, Carolus 16, 107, 189 

Linne, Carl von 16 

Lion’s Tail 46, 72 

Liquor 109 

Lithuania 75 

Llanos 116 

Lobelamidine 79 

Lobelia 47 

Lobelia tupa 47, 78 

Lobeline 79 

Lolium 102 

Lomariopsls japurensls 124 
Lonicerof Frankfurt 104 
Lophophora 47, 70, 74, 75, 

Lophophora diffusa 47, 74 
Lophophora williamsii6, 22, 
29,47,74,75, 144-155, 186 
Love potion 75 

LSD 14, 69, 75,77, 171, 185, 
186, 187, 189, 189, 190, 193 
LSD ecstasy 195 
Luciilus 95 

Lumholtz, Carl 144, 147 
Lupuna 134 
Lycoperdon 48 

Lycoperdon marginatum 48, 70 
Lycoperdon mixtecorum 48, 70 
Lycoperdon sp. 70 
Lycopodium 77, 168 
Lygodium venustum 1 24 
Lysergic acid 69, 103, 171 
Lysergic acid amide 75, 1 03, 
171, 185, 187 
Lysergic acid diethylamide 
(LSD) 69, 171, 187 
Lysergic acid hydroxyethyla- 
mide 75, 103, 171, 185, 187 
Ma 94 
Ma-fen 94 
Maa-jun 97 
Mace 74 
Macedonia 102 
Mackenzie Mountains 85 
Maconha 26, 68, 73 
Maconha Brava 98 
Macropsia 67, 71, 133 
Madagascar Periwinkle 98 
Madonna Lily 16 
Maenads 88 

Magic ceremonies 71, 72 

Magic infusions 71 
Magic Mushrooms 14, 22, 159 
Magic plant 73 
Magic potion 74 
Magliabecchiano Codex 162 
Mahayana 97 
Mahekototen shaman 179 
Maicoa 27, 66 
Maikoa 143 

Maiden’s Acacia 34, 72 
Maize beer 79, 109, 122, 141, 
141 , 150 
Majun 73 

Maku Indians 66, 69, 176 
Makuna 177 
Malaria 95 
Malaya 98 
Malaysia 72 
Maloca 130, 132 
Malouetia tamaquarina 1 24 
Malpighia family 30 
Malpighiaceae 1 38 
Mammillaria 48, 78 
Mammlllaria craigii 48, 78, 79 
Mammillaria grahamii 48, 78, 79 
Mammillaria heyderii 48, 79 
Mammillaria sinilis 78 
Man-t'o-lo 107 
Manaka 68 

Mandragora 48, 81, 86-91 
Mandragora officinarum 48, 

72, 81, 86-91 
Mandragorine 73 
Mandrake 26, 48, 72, 73, 74, 

81, 81, 86, 86-91, 87, 88, 

89, 90, 91, 107 
Mandrake root 91 
MAO inhibitor 127, 131, 137 
Mapuche 27, 66, 69, 72,78 
Maquira 49, 74 
Maquira sclerophylla 49, 74, 


Mara’akame 148, 148, 150, 

150, 154 
Maraba 26, 70 
Maria Sabina 14, 156-163 
Marijuana 12, 13, 17, 72, 73, 

79, 92-101 

Marijuana substitute 69, 73, 

76, 98 

Marijuanillo 76 
Mascagania glandulifera 1 24 
Mascagania psilophylla var. 

antifebrilis 1 24 
Mash, Deborah 113 
Mashihiri 45, 72 
Massachusetts 104, 105 
Mataco Indians 120, 122, 122 
Matwu 38, 74 
Maya 66, 109, 162 
Maypure Indians 118, 119 
Mazatec(s) 14, 66, 68, 70, 71, 
75, 78, 156-163, 164, 164, 
165, 174 

Mecki and the Dwarfes 84 
Medina Silva, Ramon 148, 

148, 149, 150, 151 
Melaleuca sp. 183 
Mene-kahi-ma 124 
Merian, Matthaus 81 
Mesa 168 

Mescal Bean 26, 27, 57, 68, 

74, 152 

Mescal Button 74 
Mescaline 22, 23, 75, 77, 145 
167, 185, 186, 187, 189 
Mesembrenine 71 
Mesembrine 71 
Mesembryanthenum 71 
Mesembryanthenum expan- 
sum 70 

Mesembryanthenum tortuo- 
sum 70 

Mesoamerica 84, 161 
Mesolithic 140 
Mestizos 139 
Metachlamydeae 17 
Metanicotine 183 

Metate 71, 75, 150 
Metel nut 107 
Meteloidine 107, 141 
Mexican Indians 74 
Mexican Mugwort 98 
Mexico 6, 22, 26, 27, 62, 64, 
81, 97, 99, 107, 107 , 109. 
110, 111, 111, 144, 145, 
147, 147, 150, 151, 156, 
158, 159, 159, 162, 166, 

172, 173, 174 
Mexico City 165 
Mfeng 96 
Miami 113 
Michigan 85 
Michoacan 158 
Mictlantlcuhtli 162 
Middle Ages 1 4, 68, 69, 70, 74, 
81, 102, 104 
Middle America 78 
Midwives 69 
Mihi 124 
Milky Way 176 
Miltomate 174 
Mimohuasca 139 
Mimosa 49 

Mimosa hostilis 49, 70, 71 , 138 
Mimosa scabrella 137, 138 
Mimosa tenuiflora 49, 70, 137, 
138, 138, 139 
Mimosa verrucosa 70 
Ming dynasty 107 
Minoan culture 66 
Mint 64 

Misperceptinogens 12 
Mistletoe family 124 
Mitra 82 
Mitragyna 49 

Mitragyna speciosa 49, 72 
Mitragynine 73 
Mixe 158 

Mixtec(s) 27, 70, 75, 158 
MMT 77 
Moche 162 
Mojas 117 

Mongolian shamans 12 
Mongoloids 140 
Monocotyledonea 16 
Monomethylthryptamine 179 
Mopope, Stepehn 152 
Moraceae 93 

Morning Glory 26, 45, 63, 74, 
75, 81, 103, 147, 170-175, 
170-175, 185 
Morpheus 20 
Morphine 12, 20, 21 
Mother Gaia 173 
Mucha, Alphonse 143 
Mucuna 50, 69 
Mucuna pruriens 50, 68, 138, 

Muller, Ferdinand J.H. von 183 
Munchhausen 105 
Muhipu-nuri 176 
Muinane 178 
Muisca 117, 141 
Munchira 142 
Murderer's Berry 88 
Muscarine 83 
Muscimole 71, 83 
Mushroom madness 75 
Mushroom cap 63 
Mushroom stones 161 
Mushrooms 14, 17, 23, 62, 69, 
70,71,73,78,79,81, 156- 
163, 164, 174 
Muslim 73 
Mutterkorn 102 
Myosmine 183 
Myristica 50 

Myristica fragrans 50, 74 
Myristicaceae 50, 138 
Myristicine 50, 75 
Mysticomimetics 12 
Mythology 63, 68, 72, 88, 124 
/V-acethylnornicotine 183 
W-formylnornicotine 183 


nylethylamine 79 
W,W-dimethyltryptamine 71 
W.W-DMT 67, 69, 71, 77 
Naeher, Karl 113 
Nahua 158 

Nahuatl 109, 146, 162, 170, 

Nandi 109 

Naranjo, Claudio 113 
Narcosis 174 

Narcotic(s) 10, 26, 31, 72, 73, 
75, 107 

Narcotic fruit 74 
Natema 30, 124, 143 
Native American Church 74, 
152, 152, 153, 155 
Native American tribes 71 
Nauwald, Nana 122,137, 194, 

Navajo 110, 155 
Nayarit 146, 162 
Nazca culture 166 
Ndzi-eboka 115 
Near East 68 
Necromancers 87, 94 
Neocerdan-diterpenes 165 
Neolithic 94 

Neoraimondia macrostibas 

Nepal 27, 30, 78, 84, 93, 106, 
107, 158 

Nepeta cataria 98 
Nerval, Gerard de 100 
Netherlands 139 
Nettle family 93 
New England 95, 104 
New Guinea 26, 70, 74, 76, 77 
New Orleans 99 
New Spain 122, 146 
New World 26, 30, 62, 64, 66, 
67, 73, 78, 90, 99, 105, 107, 
107, 109, 144, 176 
New Years's Eve 84, 153 
Niando 98 

Nicotiana rustics 79, 134, 134 
Nicotiana tabacum 1 7 
Nicotine 75, 183 
Nierika 63, 196 
Nightshade 74, 89 
Nightshade family 26, 27, 30, 
75, 86, 88, 89 
Nightshades 5 
Ninfa 66 

Ninos (santos) 14, 161, 164 
Niopo 27, 1 19 
Nonda 74 

Nor-lobelamidine 79 
Noradrenaline 145, 184, 186, 

Norcarnegine 77 
Norepinephrine 184, 185 
Norharmine 127 
Norman times 95 
Nornicotine 75, 183 
Nornuciferine 67 
Norscopolamine 141 
Nortropine 73 
North Africa 97 
North America 26, 70, 84, 95, 

Nti-si-tho 159 
Nuciferine 67 

Nutmeg 26, 50, 74, 75, 176 
Nyakwana68, 69, 177, 178 
Nyi 133 

Nyiba-eboka 1 1 5 
Nymphaea 50, 67 
Nymphaea ampla 50, 66, 67 
Nymphaea caerulea 50, 66 
Oaxaca 66, 70, 75, 78, 1 58, 
162, 164, 170, 173, 174 
Obstetrics 69 
Ochre 142 

Ocimum micranthum 1 24 
Oco-yaje 126 
Ocot! 172 
Ointments 70 
Ojibwa 85 

Oklahoma 152 

Old World 30, 64, 67, 68, 72, 

78, 90, 92, 97, 107,176 
Ololiuqui 26, 60, 64, 66, 71, 74, 
103, 111, 156, 170-175, 
170-175, 185, 187, 189 
Omagua 140 
Oncidium 50 

Oncidium ceboletta 50, 66, 67 
Opiate addict 113 
Opium (poppy) 12, 13, 20, 21, 
100, 104 

Opium substitute 72 
Opium-like effects 72 
Opuntia 124, 145 
Oracle of Delphi 86, 91 
Orchid, orchids 65, 66 
Oregon 157 
Orgies 88 

Orinoco 26, 27, 72, 81, 116, 
118. 119, 176, 177 
Orinoco basin 66, 119, 176, 


Ortega 165 
Osage 153 
Osca 117 

Oshtimisk Wajashkwedo 85 
Osmond, Humphrey 13, 191 
Otomac 1 1 8 
Otomi 158 

Out-of-body experiences 165 
Pachycereus 51 
Pachycereus pecten-aborigi- 
num 51, 66 
Pacific 64, 162 
Pacific North West 158 
Paez 140 
Paguando 45, 74 
Painted Nettle 39, 164 
Pakidai 177 
Pakistan 68, 73 
Paleolithic 140 
Palm wine 71 
Palo de borracho 135 
Palqui 68, 69, 98 
Panacea 73 

Panaeolus 51, 52, 156-163 
Panaeolus cyanescens 68 
Panaeolus sphinctrinus 51, 78, 
156-163, 157 
Panaeolus subbalteatus 52, 
Panama 97, 162 
Panax ginseng 91 
Pancratium 52 
Pancratium trianthum 52, 72 
Pandanus sp. 52, 76, 77 
Papaver somniferum 21 
Papua 26, 66, 68 
Paracelsus 10, 20 
Parahure 177 
Pariana region 74 
Parica 68, 69, 177 
Paris 102 
Parjanya 82 
Parsees 1 02 

Pashupatinath 27, 93, 107 
Paspaium grass 104 
Passiflora involucrata 127 
Passiflor aspp. 127, 129 
Passionflower 129 
Paste 67, 69, 178 
Paumare Indians 177 
Pastora 1 64 
Paye(s) 117, 176 
Pedilanthus tithymaloides 168, 

Peganum52, 124, 137—139 
Peganum harmala 52, 69, 73, 
76, 77, 124, 127, 129, 137, 

Pelecyphora 53 
Pelecyphora aselliformis 53, 

Pen Tsao Ching 94 
Pernambuco 70 
Pernettya 53, 77 
Pernettya furens 53, 76, 77 
Pernettya parvifolia 53, 76, 77 

Persephone 81, 105 
Persia 98 

Peru 66, 67, 68, 76, 81, 95, 

109, 122, 127, 129, 140, 

141, 162, 166, 166, 167, 

169, 178 

Peruvian Amazon 135, 162, 

Peruvian Indians 66, 67, 135 
Peruvian shaman 12 
Petunia 27, 53, 76, 77 
Petunia violacea 53, 76 
Peucedanum 53, 71 
Peucedanum japonicum 53, 

70, 71 

Peyote 6, 8, 12, 13, 26, 47, 62, 
63, 64, 66, 70, 74, 75, 81, 

99, 143, 144-155, 157, 166, 
172, 174, 184, 186 
Peyote bird 155 
Peyote Cimarron 70 
Peyote cult 63, 75, 1 44 
Peyote de San Pedro 78 
Peyote fan 155 
Peyote festival 6 
Peyote surrogate 67, 70, 147 
Peyotillo 53, 74, 147 
Peyotl 146, 156, 186 
Pfaffia 134 

Pfaffia iresinoides 134 
Phalaris 54 

Phalaris arundinacea 54, 76, 
138, 138 

Phalaris tuberosa 138, 138 
Phanerothymes 12 
Phantastica 13, 196, 197 
Phantasticants 12 
Pharmahuasca 137 
Phenethylamine(s) 67, 71 , 75 
Phenylalanine 185 
Phenylethylamin(s) 185 
Philip II of Spain 146 
Philippine Islands 68 
Phragmites australis 68, 138 
Phrygylanthus sugenoides 

Physalis sp. 174 
Phytolacca 54 

Phytolacca acinosa 54, 76, 77 
Pichana 134 
Pijaos 142 
Pima 110 

Pincushion Cactus 40, 48 
Pinde 30, 124 
Pinus strobus 17 
Piper auritum 98 
Piper methysticum 64 
Pipiltzin 165 

Pipiltzintzintli 27, 70, 164-165 
Piptadenia peregrina 1 1 6 
Piraparana 133, 176 
Piri piri 134 

Pitallito (cactus) 42, 74, 75 
Pituri 73, 74,75, 81, 182-183 
PituriBush 42,74,182-183. 
182, 183 

Piturin(e) 75, 183 
Piule 27, 56, 66,74,174 
Plains tribes 152 
Plant Kindom 16-19 
Pliny the Elder 95 
Plutoniuon 104 
Poison 73, 86 
Poison Bush 74 
Pokeberry 54 
Polynesian Islanders 64 
Poiyporales 17 
Polytrichum commune 16 
Pombe 109 
Popocatepetl 63, 161. 

Popol Vuh 161 
Poppy 20, 21, 24 
Porta 90 
Prescott 105 
Prickly Poppy 98 
Prisoners 75 
Prophecy 75, 124, 177 
Prophesy 86 
Protector 71 

Protestantism 1 1 5 
Pseudo-hallucinations 14 
Psilocine 23, 23, 69, 73, 79, 

159, 185, 186, 187 
Psilocybe 54, 55, 156-163, 


Psilocybe acutissima 78 
Psilocybe aztecorum 63, 78 
Psilocybe azurenscens 156, 


Psilocybe caerulescens 78, 


Psilocybe caerulescens var, 
albida 78 

Psilocybe caerulescens var. 

mazatecorum78, 156 
Psilocybe caerulescens var- 
nigripes 78, 156 
Psilocybe caerulescens var. 

ombrophila 78 
Psilocybe cubensis 54, 78, 
156-163, 157, 159 
Psilocybe cyanescens 55, 

Psilocybe hoogshagenii 157 
Psilocybe mexicana 22, 55, 

78, 79, 156-163, 156 
Psilocybe mixaeensis 78 
Psilocybe pelliculosa 1 58 
Psilocybe semilanceata 55, 72 
Psilocybe semperviva 78, 156 
Psilocybe sitigineoides 157 
Psilocybe species (= spp.) 29, 

79, 156-163 

Psilocybe wassonii78, 157 
Psilocybe yungensis 78, 156, 

Psilocybe zapotecorum 78 
Psiiocybin(e) 23, 23, 69, 73, 

79, 157, 159, 185, 186, 187, 

Psychedelic dose 73 
Psychedelic therapy 191 
Psychedelic(s) 13, 191 
Psychoanalysis 191 
Psychodysleptics 1 3 
Psychogens 12 
Psycholysis 190, 191 
Psychoses 12 
Psychosomimetics 12 
Psychotaraxics 13 
Psychotica 12 
Psychoticants 12 
Psychotomimetic(s) 12, 13 
Psychotria 55, 124-135 
Psychotria carthaginensis 1 24 
Psychotria poeppigiana 1 38 
Psychotria viridis 55, 66, 67, 
124-135, 134, 135, 137, 

138, 139 
Pteridophyta 16 
Pucallpa 133 
Puebla 99, 158 
Puffballs 27 
Puinave 177 
Pulma 134 

Puna region 120, 123 
Putumayo 126 
Pygmy 97, 112 
Pythagoras 90 
Pythia 91 

Quapaw Indians 1 53 
Quechua 124 
Quetzalaxochiacatl 66 
Quiche-(Maya) 84 
Quinde 142 

Quinoiizidine type alkaloids 77 
Quinta essentia 20 
Ratsch, Christian 27, 189 
Rahner, Hugo 88 
Rain priests 79, 110 
Rajaw Kakuija 84 
Rami 134 

Rape dos Indios 49, 74 
Rasping stick 150 
Raven 91 
Recreation 69 
Red Bean 26, 74, 75 
Red Bean Dance 75 

Red Canary Grass 54 
Red Tengu mushroom 85 
Reed Grass 76, 77 
Reichel-Doimatoff, Gerardo 
62, 126, 131, 132 
Reindeer milk 71 , 82 
Remo caspi 134 
Reserpine 13 

Resin 69, 75, 176, 178, 181 
Rheumatism 77 
Rhizomes 67 
Rhynchosia 56, 75 
Rhynchosia longeracemosa 

Rhynchosia phaseoloides 56, 
74, 75 

Rhynchosia pyramidalis74 
Riamba cult 99 

Ribas, Padre Andrea Perez de 

Rig-Veda‘82, 83 
Rio Branco 119 
Rio Grande 74 
Rio Madeira 72, 119 
Rio Maranon 140 
Rio Negro 177 
Rio Purus 177 
Rio Tikie 66 
Rio Vaupes 66, 126 
Ritualistic significance 67 
Rivea corymbosa 74 
Roman priests 89 
Romans 95 
Rome 70, 74 
Root Beer Plant 98 
Rosa Maria 99 
Rosa spinosissima 1 7 
Rosebud Reservation 152 
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 
117, 126 
Rubiaceae 138 
Ruiz, Fortunato 120 
Russel, F. 110 
Russians 82 
Rutaceae 138 
Rye 68, 102, 102 
Sabbat 69 

Sacred mushroom(s) 14, 78, 
79, 147, 159 
Sacred tree 78 
Sadhu 93 
Safrol 75 

Saguaro 39, 76, 77 
Sahagiin, Fray Bernardino de 
111,144, 145, 147, 159, 170 
Salaman 142 
Salem 104 
Salta 120 
Salves 74 

Salvia 56, 68, 164-165 
Salvia divinorum 14, 56, 70, 

71, 164-165, 164-165, 184 
Salvinorin A 71, 165 
Salvinorin B 165 
Samadhi 189 
San Antonio 147 
San Bartolo Yautepec 174 
San Critobal de Las Casas 159 
San Isidro 54, 156-163 
San Luis Potosi 148 
San Pedro (cactus) 27, 59, 76, 
166-169, 166-169 
Sananco 134, 135 
Sanango 58, 76 
Sandison, Ronald A. 190 
Sandoz 187 
Sanskrit 68, 107, 108 
Santo Daime 139 
Saponines 69, 73, 77 
Satori 189 
Saxon times 95 
Scandinavia 88, 102 
Sceletium 56, 71 
Sceletium expansum 56 
Sceletium tortuosum 56, 70, 

Scirpus atrovirens 56 
Scirpus sp. 56, 66, 67 
Screw Pine 52, 76 


Scopine 73 

Scopolamine 67, 69, 71 , 73, 
75, 79, 86, 87, 107, 141, 


Scopoletine 69, 75 
Scopolia 57 

Scopolia carniolica 57, 74 
Scotch Rose 1 7 
Scythians 72, 94, 95, 97 
Sea Bean 98 
Seaweeds 17 
Secale cereale 102 
Sedatives 13 
Sedges 65 

Semilla de laVirgen 175 
Seminarcosis 75 
Seri Indians 77 
Serotonin(e) 22, 120, 159, 
171, 185, 187 
Sertiirner, Friedrich 20 
Sesquiterpene-lactone 79 
Shaman(s) 8, 30, 62, 67, 69, 
72, 75, 82, 82, 120, 126, 
134, 139, 142, 148, 149, 
156, 164, 168, 175, 176, 


Shamanic medicine 76, 117 
Shamanic significance 67, 71 
Shamanism 64, 85 
Shang-la 76, 77 
Shanin 53, 76 
Shanshi 27, 40, 76 
Sharon, Douglas 169 
She-to 78 
Scheelea 1 80 
Shen-Nung 94, 95, 95 
Shimbe Lake 168 
Shipibo Indians 125, 126, 

129, 130, 131 
Shiriana 177 

Shiva 10, 13, 27, 92, 93, 97, 
108, 108, 109 
Shiva Ungam 107 
Shrubs 65 

Siberia 26, 64,70,71, 82 
Siberian Lion's Tail 76 
Siberian Motherwort 47, 76, 

Sibundoy Valley 67, 74, 141 , 
142, 142 
Sibyl 91 

Sierra Madre Occidental 97, 

Sierra Madre Oriental 164 
Sida 57, 72, 73 
Sida acuta 57, 72, 98 
Sida rhombifolia 57, 72, 98 
Sinaloa 145 

Sinicuiche 27, 43, 63, 76, 77 
Sinu culture 65 
Siona 126 

Sioux medicine man 152 
Smokehaouse 71 
Snail shell lime 67, 118, 119 
Snuff(s) 27,67,68,73, 75,81, 
116-119, 116, 120-123 
Sogamoza 140 
Solanaceous 71 
Solandra 72, 73 
Solandra brevicalyx 72 
Solandra guerrerensis 72, 73 
Solanum maniacum 170 
Soma 62, 62, 70, 82-85, 97 
Somalata 84 
Sonora 77 
Soothsayer 122 
Sophora secundiflora 68, 69, 
74, 75, 152 

Sorcerers 71, 77, 112, 147 
Sorcerer’s Cherry 88 
Sorcery 73, 124 
Sotho 96 

South Africa 70, 71 , 72, 76, 97 
South America 19, 26, 27, 30, 
62, 65, 66, 76, 77, 81, 95, 
118 118, 134, 135, 140, 
162, 166, 172 
South American Indian 33 

Southeast Asia 26, 73 
Southwest 26, 109 
Spain 157 
Spaniards 156, 171 
Spanish cronicles 74, 144, 


Spathiphyllum canaefolium 

Species Plantarum 16 
Spermatophyta 17 
Sphaeradenia 179 
Spruce, Richard 24, 24, 65, 
117, 119, 126, 132, 176 
Sri Lanka 77 
St. Anthony 103, 104 
St. Anthony's fire 26, 68, 102- 

St. Peter 166 
Stearns, John 105 
Stimulant 71 , 73, 75, 79 
Straw Flower 43, 76 
Stopharia cubensis 158, 159 
Strychnos usambarensis 127 
Stupor 67, 141 
Succulents 65 
Sucuba 134 
Sui period 108 

Sun Father 63, 106, 117, 131, 
133, 176 
Sun God 91 
Sung dynasty 107 
Surara 177 
Sushrata 95 
Sweet Calomel 76 
Sweet Flag 16, 26, 34, 76 
Switzerland 96 
Syrian Rue 52, 76, 77, 124, 
127, 129, 139 
Syphilis 170 
Ta Ma 72 

Tabaco del Diablo 47, 78 
Tabernaemontana 58, 76 
Tabernaemontana coffeoides 
58, 76 

Tabernaemontana crassa 58, 
76, 77 

Tabernaemontana dichotoma 
76, 77 

Tabernaemontana pandaca- 
qui 76 

Tabernaemontana sananho 
58, 134, 135 

Tabernaemontana spp. 58 
Tabernanthe 58, 112-115 
Tabernanthe iboga 29, 58, 70, 
112-115, 112-115 
Tagetes 58, 78, 79 
Tagetes lucida 58, 78, 79 
Taglli 27, 76 
Taino 116 
Taique 27, 42, 76 
Tajik tribesmen 78 
Takemoto 83 
Takini 44, 78 
Tamu 78 
Tanaecium 59 

Tanaecium nocturnum 59, 72, 

Tanayin 1 10 
Tannins 73 
Tanzania 70, 109 
Tantric practices 93, 97 
Taoist 94, 107 

Tarahumara 8, 66, 69, 70, 71 , 
74, 75, 78, 79, 144, 147, 
149, 150, 151 
Tarascans 158 
Tatar 78 

Tatewari 62, 148, 150 
Taxine 19 

Telepathine 126, 127 
Teliostachya lanceolata var. 

crispa 1 24 
Tengu 85 

Teochichimeca ritual 1 47 
Teonanacatl 55, 62, 71, 78, 
81, 156-163, 185, 186, 


Teotihuacan 172, 173 

Tepantitla 173 
Tepecano Indians 99 
Tepescohuite 70 
Tesguino 109 
Tetrahydrocannabinol 184, 

Tetrahydroharmine 77, 127 
Terahydroharmol 127 
Tetrahydroisoquinoline alka- 
loids 67, 75, 77 
Tetrapteris 59, 1 24-1 35 
Tetrapteris methystlca 59, 66, 
67, 124 

Tetrapteris mucronata 66, 1 24 
Teuile 67 

Teunamacatlth 156 
Teyhuintli 157 

Texas 74, 81, 144, 144, 147 
Tha-na-sa 78 
Thallophyta 17 
THC 96, 98, 184, 184, 185 
Thailand 72 
Thebes 72, 97 
Theobroma 179 
Theocritus 1 09 
Thiophene derivatives 79 
Thle-Pelakano 78 
Thorn Apple 13, 26, 31, 41 , 
79, 106-111, 109 
Thornapple 78 
Thrace 1 02 
Tiahuanaco 120, 122 
Tibet 78, 97, 98 
Tlamanalco 63 
Tlapatl 1 09 
Tlililtzin 66, 174 
TMA 14 
To-shka 78 
Toad(s) 14, 66 
Tobacco 10, 17, 29, 63, 64, 
69,73, 79, 97,108,116, 
117, 120, 124. 127, 

130 ,134, 134, 140, 143, 

148, 149, 150, 153, 165, 
172, 182 
Toe 27, 66 
Toe negra 124 
Toloache 27,41,69,78,79, 

Toloatzin 78, 109 
Tolohuaxihuitl 109 
Toltecs 144 
Tonga 66, 140 
Tongo 27 
Tonic 79 
Torna Loco 111 
Torres, C. Manuel 120 
Torres, Donna 123 
Totubjansush 74 
Toxicon 1 0 
Trance, daivoyant 7 1 
Trance, visionary 75 
Trance(s) 77, 88 
Tranquilizers 13, 191 
Tree of Knowledge 88, 122 
Trees 65 

Tribulus terrestris 1 27, 1 37 
Trichocereus 59, 166-169 
Trichocereus pachanoi 59, 76, 
77,81,166-169, 166-169 

Trinidadian ferns 1 9 
Triptolemus 81 
Triterpenes 7 1 
Tropine 73 

Tropane alkaloids 69, 71, 73, 
75,79, 141 

Tryptamine derivatives 67, 75, 
159, 179, 185 
Tryptamine(s) 73, 81 , 1 1 7, 
120, 129, 138, 171, 180 
Tryptophane 117, 185 
Tschudi, Johann J. 140 
Tsuwiri 70 

Tubatulobal tribe 1 1 0 
Tukano(an) Indians 67, 124, 
126, 127, 131, 133, 176, 

Tukche 106 
Tunas 145 
Tunja 117, 141 
Tupa 78 

Turbina 60, 170-175, 170- 

Turbina corymbosa 29, 60, 

74, 75, 170-175, 170-175 
Turkestan 26, 78 
Turkestan Mint 46, 78 
Turkoman tribesmen 78 
Turkey Red variety 138 
Turner 91 
Turnera diffusa 98 
Twiners 65 
Tzompanquahuitl 68 
Ucuba 176 

U.S. Pharmacopoeia 99 
Ukraine 104 
Umu 122 

Uncaria tomentosa 134, 135 
Uniao do Vegetal 139 
Unio mystica 189 
United Staates 13, 74, 75, 99, 
144, 151, 152, 154, 155, 
191, 193 
Uppsala 16, 189 
Urticaceae 93 
Usbek tribesmen 78 
Vaccinium oliginorum 71 
Vahiyinin 82 
Valdes 165 
Valdivia 72 
Varanasi 97 
Varuna 82 
Vasoconstrictor 69 
Vaupes 131 
Vaya (Vayu) 82, 83 
Velada 14, 160 
Venezuela 64, 68, 178,119, 
176, 177 

Ventilago vlminalis 1 83 
Veracruz 99 
Vertine 77 
Viho-mahse 176 
Vikings 95 

Villca 30, 34, 66, 120, 122, 

Villca camayo 122 
Villca Coto 122 
Vine of the Soul 124 
Vines 65 

Vinho de Jurema 71 
Virginia 95, 1 10 
Virola (spp.) 29, 60, 73, 81 , 
138, 176-181 

Virola calophylla6&, 176, 177, 

Virola calophylloideaGS, 176, 


Virola cuspidata 1 76 
Virola elongata 68, 176, 178 
Virola loretensis 176, 178 
Virola pavonis 1 78 
Virola peruviana 176 
Virola njfula 1 76 
Virola sebifera 1 38, 1 76 
Virola surimanensis 1 76, 176, 


Virola theiodora 60, 68, 138, 
176, 176, 177, 178 
Vision-inducing quality 73, 77 
Vision-seeking dance 74 
Vision-quest 75 
Visions 14, 26, 27, 64, 67, 69, 
71,75, 77, 79, 109, 110, 
122, 122, 148, 159 
Voacanga 60, 78, 79 
Voacanga africana 78 
Voacanga bracteata 78 
Voacanga dregei 78 
Voacanga grandiflora 60, 78 
Voacanga spp. 60 
Voacangine 77, 79 
Voccamine 79 

Waika 72, 118, 177, 178, 179, 

Walangari Karntawarra Jaka- 
marra 182 

Wapaq 82 
Warao 64 

Wasson, R. Gordon 82, 159 
Water Lilies 50, 66 
Wattisham 1 04 
Wavy Cap 55 
Weidmann, Fred 193 
West Africa 77 
West Indies 66, 116 
Western Ftemipshere 28, 29. 

Western society 62, 75, 79, 
81, 115 
Whale 82 
White Pine 17 
Wichi 120 
Wichowaka 66 
Wichuri 66 
Wichuriki 78 
Wild Dagga 72, 98 
Willca 122 
Wine 69, 108 
Winemaking 77 
Wirikuta62, 148, 148, 150, 

Witch(es) 89 
Witch’s Berry 88 
Witchcraft 71 , 7289 
Witches market 166 
Witches’ brews 68, 69, 70, 71 , 
73, 78, 79, 86-91 
Witches’ ointments 74 
Witches’ salves 74 
Witoto 176, 178 
Wolf’s Milk plant 169 
Wood Rose 78, 79 
World tree 135 
Wysoccan 79, 1 10 
Xerophytes 65 
Xibalba 161 
Xingu 24 
Xixicamatic 174 
Xochipilli 63 , 161 
Xtabentum 74, 1 73 
Xtohk’uh 109 
Yage 67, 124-135 
Yaje 30, 66, 69,124-135 
Yakee 68, 69 
Yama 114 
Yando 133 
Yanomamo 177 
Yaqui Indians 27, 70, 71 , 109, 

Yarinacocha 129 
Yas 140 
Yato 68 
Yauhtli 58, 78 
Yekwana 126, 176 
Yellow Henbae 44 
Yoco 29 
Yogis 27 
Yogurt 97 
Yohimbine 73 
Yokut Indians 79, 110 
Yop 117 
Yopa 116 

Yopo 27, 30, 35, 65,66, lie- 

Yucatan 1 62 
Yuman tribes 110 
Yupa 118 

Yurimagua Indians 79, 162 
Yuruparf ceremony 67, 129, 

Yun-Shih 78 
Zacatechichi 27, 78, 79 
Zaire 112 
Zambesi Valley 99 
Zame ye Mebege 1 1 2 
Zapotec 66, 75, 173, 174, 

174 , 175 
Zaparo 129 
Tend-Avesta 94 
Zornia diphylla 98 
Zornia latifolia 98 

Zuni Indians (= Zuni) 79, 1 06,